The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Publication: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Publication: May 12th 2015 by Putnam
Format: Paperback Pages: 395
‘One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving
stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.’ – Goodreads
I didn’t think I’d like this novel as much as I did, especially considering that the plot was heavy on the romance. But I did, I loved it. Bah.
The Wrath and the Dawn isn’t an ‘instant romance’ kind of novel; the romance is slow to develop and it has its hiccups. Some of the dialogues are beautiful and cute and omg, while others are a little cheesy and made me roll my eyes.
As it’s inspired by A Thousand and One Nights – another one I keep reminding myself to read – the premise of the novel is pretty predictable: awful man meets clever and wonderful woman, romance ensues. The awful man is Khalid and the clever woman is Shahrzad (Shazi), who I didn’t think I’d like because I thought she’d be a predictable protagonist. (She did turn out to be a predictable protagonist, but I liked her anyway.)
The characters were probably my favourite thing about this novel. Despina, Shazi’s handmaiden, is hilarious and her friendship with Shazi is epic. I loved the brutal honesty, loyalty and care between the two, and I appreciated Despina’s sassy and outspoken nature. Jalal, Khalid’s cousin, is another memorable and insanely likeable character. I enjoyed reading the exchanges between Jalal, Khalid and Shazi because of Jalal’s witty dialogues.
The narrative is written in the third-person. I liked the language and the writing style, it was easy to dive into and the novel quickly turned into a page-turner for me. It wasn’t too hard to imagine the Middle Eastern-esq setting and the cultural elements were portrayed well with references to food, smells and clothing painting a vivid picture of Shazi’s surroundings.
The shortfall, however, was that nothing actually happens. The entire book focuses on Shazi and Khalid’s relationship and the interesting action scenes aren’t given as much attention as they deserve. There’s a lot of build-up that goes nowhere. Shazi’s childhood sweetheart, Tariq, shows promise in the ‘delivering some action’ department but Tariq becomes an absolute bore and frankly quite annoying because he treats Shazi like a possession. I was disappointed in the magical elements of the story, like the mysterious rug Shazi is gifted, because they don’t amount to much. However, I have a feeling these might become the focus of the narrative in the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger.
The Wrath and the Dawn ends with a cliff-hanger and I’m definitely going to read The Rose and the Dagger to see what happens next. Let’s hope there’s more action and magic involved!