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?
Title: The Wrath & the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 395
Publishing Date: May 12th, 2015
I ordered The Wrath & the Dawn on a whim a few days ago whilst scrolling through the YA book section of Amazon.com and noticing that this book was on sale. The synopsis of this story has always intrigued me and the reviews were pretty amazing, so I figured I might as well order it and see if I liked it. However, I was wrong. I didn’t like it. I LOVED IT. The plot of this book was nothing like what I thought it’d be and I found myself completely wrapped up in the story as soon as I began reading the first few pages. I finished this book in about a day and I immediately ordered the sequel to it. This book follows Shahrzad, nicknamed Shazi by her friends. Shazi must deal with the sudden murder of her best friend caused by the infamous Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, who gains a new wife each day, only for her to mysteriously be dead by dawn. Seeking revenge and justice for the death of her best friend, Shazi volunteers to become the next wife of Khalid with one goal in mind — to murder him. However, after successfully surviving through the night and maneuvering her way into the perfect situation to kill Khalid, Shazi finds herself slowly falling in love with him. This novel was a rapid page-turner and it is definitely one of my new favorite YA fantasy retellings!
The rest of this review is spoiler-free.
The plot of this novel was so unique and refreshing to me. I’ve never read A Thousand and One Nights (the original story that this book was based on), so I honestly had no idea what to expect, but I was definitely happy with this plot and the plot twists that ensued. The plot of this story was filled with so many different emotional events — from seeking revenge to falling in love to developing friendships to subtle hints of magic, this book truly had it all. The ending of each chapter always left me wanting more, so it was extremely hard to set this book down (although it was 3am and I needed sleep but I couldn’t stop reading so eventually I had to force myself to stop reading but as soon as I woke up I resumed reading).
The ending of this novel somehow broke my heart yet it also kind of put it back together, too? I don’t even know how to describe the emotions that I felt when I read the ending. Needless to say, as soon as I read the last page of this book I found myself in dire need of the sequel.
I absolutely loved the characters in this novel. I loved Shazi’s character and her loyal, caring, and kind characteristics. Her wittiness and attitude were so on point and she was such a badass that could obviously fend for herself if necessary. Khalid. Oh, Khalid. His character had so many layers to it that I loved him even when I wasn’t supposed to necessarily like him. I also really loved side characters such as Jalal and Despina. They added that little bit of friendship and humor to the book that I always enjoy in YA fantasy.
“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.”
The writing style of this book was amazing. I cannot put into words how powerful and exhilarating Ahdieh’s writing is. I cannot wait to dive into the second half of this duology. There’s just something about this author’s writing that fully entranced me from the first to last page of this novel.
While I loved this book immensely, it did have its flaws. Quite a few issues that I found whilst reading were extremely minor and didn’t affect my rating much, but I did found myself confused at times when it came to pertinent components within the novel such as the magic system that was developed and the world building that was occurring. I kept going back and forth between a 4-star and 5-star rating for these reasons, so I ultimately decided upon 4.5 stars.
Overall, this was an absolutely stunning debut novel from Renée Ahdieh. The characters, the plot, the romance — I loved everything about this book so much. So, so, so much. I recommend compiling a playlist of forbidden-love-esque love songs and listening to it whilst reading this book. Trust me, your emotions will be wrecked.
“I love you, a thousand times over. And I will never apologize for it.”
So, have any of you read The Wrath & the Dawn? What are your thoughts on it? Comment them below so we can discuss!