The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Buddy Read with Summer @ XingSings
Publication Date: May 12th 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult.
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones
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.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights. It’s a tale I was not really familiar with but after reading up on it I can definitely see the parallels. This tale follows the story of Shahrzad Al-Khayzuran and her quest for vengeance that doesn’t go quite as planned. Shahrzad volunteers herself to be the next bride of Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. Known as the “monster boy king,” Khalid’s reputation stemmed from the brutal killing of his new bride every day. However, things aren’t all as they seem and throughout the course of the book the secrets and the turmoil surrounding this act begin to come to light. Along the way Shahrzad finds that evading death is the least of her concerns and it is the conflict in her hearts that threatens to tear her whole existence apart as she finds herself falling in love with the man that killed her best friend.
I went into this book with high expectations but I must admit I was a little bit disappointed with the beginning of the book. Shahrzad was quick to abandon her cause to avenge the murder of her best friend, which was a bit strange for me seeing as Shahrzad spent the majority of the book telling us just how strong a bond they had and how they were practically sisters etc; so for her to abandon her mission so abruptly was a bit of a disappointment. However, I was surprised at how quick I was to overlook her mission as well and I think this came down to the fact that I never truly felt the bond between Shahrzad and Shiva. I kept being told that they were best friends but I never felt that bond. I also had a slight issue with Shazi’s plan to survive. In the end her plan did succeed in keeping her alive another night but when it came to executing the actual killing of Khalid, she didn’t really have anything to go by beyond securing her own survival on that first night.
Those are minor complaints on my part and I must say that after we get past the first 100 pages or so things start picking up. This in most part is because of the romance. Shahrzad and Khalid very much have a push and pull relationship in this book. Shazi does not want to love Khalid. His actions and the secrecy regarding the reason behind these killings keep her from fully embracing her hearts desires. This secret is the source of the push and pull dynamic but when the secret is finally out in the open we are treated to one stunning romance and they have definitely made it into my OTP list.
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
This brings me to Khalid. I knew from the start that he was a complex character in an impossible situation. However, I did not expect to love him as much as I did. He is well up there with the best of the book boyfriends. Why? because throughout this series Khalid always treats Shahrzad as an equal. He values her in a way no one else does; he listens to her and allows her to be her own person. His reason for withholding the secret behind the killings is not for his own safety but for hers. He does not want her to have to bear the burden he carries and the secrecy that goes with it. Khalid is the definition of self-sacrificing. He’s in a tough situation. The stipulation of this curse requires 100 sacrifices and if the killings are not carried out thousands more will die. It’s a lose-lose situation and Khalid understands this better than anyone. One of my favourite moments in this book was when Shahrzard discovers just how deeply these killings affect him. Not one of these women tied to the fate of a noose was forgotten by Khalid and the way he remembers them made me so emotional. He does not want to carry out these killings but his believes that he has no choice.
“It’s a fitting punishment for a monster. to want something so much—to hold it in your arms — and know beyond a doubt you will never deserve it.”
Despite the fact that this book is heavily dominated by the romance there are other factors that come into play concerning our secondary characters. So, let’s talk love triangles. You all know by now that I cannot stand them and there have been conflicting reports as to whether or not there is one in this series. I can safely say that on the whole there is no love triangle. Tariq is Shahrzad’s first love and that’s all he is in this book. By the time Tariq appears on the screen in proximity to Shazi, it is clear that she has well and truly fallen in love with Khalid. This situation is more of an unrequited triangle.
This brings me to Tariq himself. Let’s start by saying I did not like him at all. His sense of entitlement regarding Shahrzad was disgusting. She made her feeling very clear to him and yet he convinced himself that the love she had for Khalid stemmed from a case of Stockholm Syndrome, a reason he used in justifying his attempts to basically kidnap her. Not once did he stop to consider her feelings or listen to what she had to say. Not once did he show any trust in her. He was acting selfishly throughout the book and not once did he stop to consider how his actions would affect those he profess’ to love. This leads me to another minor issue I had with the book. While there are some political reasoning’s as to why certain characters wished to bring about a war, the main motivation in starting this war was because of Tariq’s blind ambition to get Shazi back and it’s this issue that sees its full consequence in the second book.
In her review, Summer talks about her disappointment in the lack of magic and this is a sentiment I echo, one I plan to explore in more depth in my review for The Rose and the Dagger.
Overall I loved this book, or should I say, I love this romance. Don’t get me wrong the writing is absolutely stunning and vivid and had all senses on high alert. However, the strength of this book lies in the dynamic between Shahrzad and Khalid. At its core, this tale is about love and forgiveness. It is by no means perfect but it’s definitely a recommended read.