Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: May 2015
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?
What I Liked:
I read my first retelling of the Shahrzad story when I was 12-years-old. It was a book called Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, and I checked it out of the library because I thought the cover was pretty. I ended up falling in love with it, and I wanted more retellings of this fantastic story (I love fairy tale and myth retellings). But, I really couldn’t find many.
So, many years later, I was thrilled to come across this book. And I have to say, I was not disappointed at all! Even though this version of Shahrzad certainly doesn’t tell as many stories as she does in the original, I loved her strength, determination, cleverness, and wit. She was so strong and strong-willed. Even when I was frustrated by her decisions, I still admired her tenacity.
And I did not hate the caliph, Khalid, either. They set up straight away that there is more going on than what we think, and the author does a fantastic job of dropping hints and stretching out the slow reveal. I had an idea of what was going on, but the mystery was not as easy to guess as it is in some books meant for the YA audience, which I appreciated.
What I Didn’t:
The only parts of the novel which were a bit slow for me were the ones following Shahrzad’s father and her (lover? boyfriend?) Tariq. Yes, they set up the climax, but I really didn’t feel much for these characters. I think part of the reason is that Shahrzad volunteered to become to caliph’s wife, knowing that she would probably be killed in the morning. And then she isn’t, because she’s clever. But her father and Tariq each have different plans to get her back out of the palace, even though she went willingly. They are completely ignoring her choice! I know that I’m not supposed to agree with them, but still! It’s so frustrating…grrr…
This book was amazing. I didn’t want to put it down, and when I had to, I was constantly thinking about it. The writing is beautiful, and the main characters of Shahrzad and Khalid are both sympathetic, even if they don’t always make the best choices. They are both strong and determined, and yet they both have vulnerabilities that are uncovered as the story continues. All I can say is that I’m very glad that I waited to read this book until the sequel was released so that I can dive right into it!
My Rating: 5/5 (Loved it, reading the sequel asap)