Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publishing Information: May 12, 2015 by Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
Series Information: The first in The Wrath and the Dawn duet
Format: Hardcover, 388 pages
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss *review and quotes based on an unfinished copy
Recommended For: Readers looking for something that feels familiar but is wholly different, and anyone needing a multitude of swoons
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
There is so much to say, and yet I don’t think that I have enough words to convey how much I absolutely adored The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I honestly don’t know where to start…
Let’s start with all of the things that The Wrath and the Dawn could have done. It could have given the readers a love triangle to frustrate the most easy going reader. It could have provided us with a strong heroine who suddenly shifts in character and falls apart due to a man. We could have been given women who hate each other due to their beauty, or jealousy. Honestly, this novel could have fallen into every trope imaginable, and somehow the author managed to move past these boundaries and therefore succeed in writing one of the best debuts that I have ever read.
Instead, Renee Ahdieh wrote a novel that encompasses love after it has grown and become something real, between two characters who grow and learn with one another. Characters who only lose themselves in the moment, still maintaining their sense of self and strength while learning to allow another past the walls around their hearts. The slow burn love story in The Wrath and the Dawn is admittedly the best part of the novel. It is the core of the novel, weaving through every page, yet it doesn’t take away from the underlying plot, the question of why Shazi is there in the first place and the struggle that Khalid has every waking moment.
“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.
“No.” His hands dropped to her waist, “Destroy me.”
I loved LOVED Shazi and Khalid. I loved them separately, and together. Honestly Shazi is the closest that I have had to a “spirit animal” in a very long time. Her strength was believable as she also showed her weaknesses. Her wavering between her desire for revenge, and confusion over her feelings for new husband was not at all off putting, and I appreciated the conflict in her mind and heart. Khalid has his own secrets and he is often described as being stern, boring, or angry (along with having eyes comparable to a tigers…hubba-hubba!) Shazi brings out a different side of him, though it is a subtle change to anyone who is not close to him. This “monster” of a man who has been accused of killing so many women finds pride in his wife, and can be seen playing with the bangles on her arm as he lounges back amongst other nobles.
“This dangerous girl. This captivating beauty.
This destroyer of worlds and creator of wonder.”
The secondary characters were also fantastic. I LOVED Jalal, what is it about the Captain of the Guard always being so playful and dreamy? His devotion to Khalid despite their differences was heart melting and I adored the way in which he cared for Shazi, the fact that he thought of her as family was incredibly apparent. Despina was fantastic, and strong in her own right. She was possibly one of the only people who dared to not only stand up to Shazi, but call her a brat on a daily basis. A true friend is one who will call you out when you are being a brat, indeed. Even Tariq, Shazi’s childhood sweetheart was likable, believable and kind. I especially love the way in which Shazi reacts to him, with strength and conviction in her feelings. She was always true to herself even when confused or when faced with the possible “shame” of turning her back on her mission of vengeance. I did not for a moment worry that this novel was going to fall into love triangle territory as there was very little wavering, and it was apparent that Khalid held her soul. Each of these characters were layered and came with their own secrets, and their own form of strength.
“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
Ahdieh weaves an intricate and beautiful story that follows many twisty paths. She manages to draw the reader into the novel with her immaculate descriptions of the character’s surroundings, and the food that sits in front of them. Her descriptions are so vibrant that I could smell the rain storms, and lilacs in Shazi’s hair. If I am being honest, the only thing that slowed down the novel a little for me was the side stories. Despite the fact that they absolutely weave into the main storyline, and are clearly relevant and will be fleshed out in book two, I still yearned for Shazi or Khalid every time we were away from them. Speaking of book two, I can’t wait to see how things play out. The ending to The Wrath and the Dawn was intense and heart wrenching, I honestly don’t know what to think. Overall this novel absolutely exceeded my expectations and kept me absolutely yearning for more.
Shelf Talker: The Wrath and the Dawn absolutely blew me away. Words, and this review, cannot do justice to the vibrant world, complex yet relatable characters, and breathtaking love story. If you are looking for a novel that has the feel of a familiar tale while also weaving in new twists, a novel filled with secrets and intrigue, and a novel with a romance that you will feel at your core, The Wrath and the Dawn is a must read. I also promised that I would add in the phrase “Ohh MAH LOINS” to my review as well, as it was one of the phrases I fell back on as I was reading.