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.
Disclaimer: There may be some things you consider to be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
Why we chose it: We wanted to give the book more time than we did the first time round.
Review: There are times when a book keeps you awake during the night. When it keeps you reading until you’re bleary eyed and a blanket of orange and pink has spread across the sky.
The Wrath & The Dawn is such a book. We were exhausted when we read the last word and even though we promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until it was afternoon we know it was worth it. We got to read a book that involves deserts and royalty, but a different sort of royalty than whats commonly seen in YA. Yes, there was a beautiful palace and there were jewels and fine silk, but there was no petty politics among the nobles of the court. There was a Caliph named Khalid and a girl named Shahrzad.
Shahrzad is not the usual female protagonist in a fantasy novel. She isn’t proficient with magic or a plethora of weapons nor is it part of her story arc to become so. Shahrzad is witty and intelligent and cunning. She has a plan. She knows how to lie. We loved her. We especially loved how her thoughts would mix with the third person point of view the book is written in. It helped provide a sporadic intimacy that could elevate your emotions and make you fearful.
There were quite a few scenes which had our hearts thundering away in our chests, but they’re not neccessarily what one would expect. One of them simply involved a story. Never, in all the books that we’ve read did we feel such fear for a girl telling a story. The way Ahdiedh wrote it using the night sky as a clock that started off slow and then sped up unexpectedly was amazing. It’s something we think sets her apart from the other young adult fantasy authors out there. Her writing has a different feel to it – not only is it lyrical, but the cultural aspect that resides in every word really came across.
It was really refreshing for us.
A book with a plot such as this one always has us thinking up possible endings or even attempting to predict the entire arc of the characters. For The Wrath & The Dawn we mentally drafted three:
- Khalid (who we’ve yet to discuss) would turn out to be the monster everyone in Khorasan believed him to be. He would be a murderer and a demon. We’d love to hate him.
- Khalid would be a wronged man who had no part in the murder of his brides. Someone within the palace and possibly his family would be behind it all. They’d have their sights set on his throne. A struggle for power would ensue.
- Shahrzad would exact her vengeance on Khalid despite her love and would become a Queen of questionable sanity. She’d be an interesting Calipha – it would be great.
While some elements of what we came up with were right, The Wrath & The Dawn managed to surprise us still.
Khalid is easily one of our favourite characters to ever exist. He’s certainly the first Caliph we’ve encountered and he’s an intriguing one. Our sayyidi (we’re using that right yes?) is intelligent like our star Shahrzad, but his wrath far eclipses her wonderful temper. Khalid has it within him to maim and murder and not regret it. We learnt as we read more and more that he’s a boy-king who struggles with being a King….being a good King. There’s a weight upon him and we really enjoyed diving into his character.
The romance in this book is big. There’s a lot of little parts and pieces, little scenes that build up to big romantic moments. For us, as you know romance in books is a hard thing to swallow. It’s difficult to get truly right and often an author simply has the female character develop a serious dose of insta-love. They cheat essentially. In The Wrath & The Dawn that doesn’t happen. In fact we don’t even think Shahrzad is the one who falls first. We think it’s Khalid! Falling in love and staying in love however are two entirely different things and we’re just not going to spoil that for you.
Secondary characters in any type of fictional novel have the worst time. Their usually moved around like pawns to provoke emotions and put into play certain things the cruel authors of the world want us to experience. Because of they kind either be put into a trope or they can b built up the way any real feeling character should be. In this book characters such as Despina, Tariq, Irsa and Rahim really stood out. They’re all like a gem. Completely unique.
To sum up, The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdiedh is a glorious piece of literature that takes place upon hot sands and agendas. It’s as good as everyone says it is which is nice because no one likes an over-hyped book that is actually quite awful. We loved it’s characters and it’s world and we’re currently planning our review of the second and concluding book The Rose & The Dagger. To any of you out there who are still hesitant we urge you to try this book. Please do.
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