Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."Shahrzad, or Shazi, is out for revenge. Her cousin ends up being one of the king's latest victims. You see Khalid, the king, is known to take a new bride and then kill them after one night together, which is what happened to Shazi's cousin. So, Shazi is set on revenge and sacrifices herself as the king's next bride. She even ends the safe betrothal that she had with her childhood friend. Shazi is determined to stay alive and in order to do so, she tells tales to her "husband" to keep him interested and not kill her off in the morning. Surprisingly, it is working and she comes to realize that there's more to Khalid than she originally thought. Maybe he isn't the monster everyone painted him to be? Could she actually be harboring feelings for him? What is really going on Khalid's palace? Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn is inspired by the classic tale, A Thousand and One Nights. Although it was slow to start, it's a dark, edge-of-your-seat read with a luscious setting.
Shazi is an intriguing character. She is completely reckless though, but I guess that is what makes her entirely interesting in The Wrath and the Dawn. She understands how to navigate in a dangerous court and how to keep the king interested, which in turn, saves her life. Khalid, on the other hand, took me sometime to warm up to, but I think that's the point. I liked how Shazi tried to figure him out slowly and readers know that there's more to him than just his reputation.
Even though this novel is being billed as a YA fantasy, I definitely felt it was light on the "magic" side and I wish there was more of it in The Wrath and the Dawn. However, my favorite aspect of the novel was Ahdieh's ability to paint a vivid tale. Her descriptions were beautiful. The silks, the jewels, and the gorgeous Middle Eastern setting all added to my enjoyment of the novel. So, needless to say, the world building was fantastic despite the fact that it was light on fantasy elements.
My only issue with The Wrath and the Dawn was the fact that I recently read A Thousand Nights, another A Thousand and One Nights retelling, which sort of took away from my experience with this novel as they were very similar. Although I feel this version is better and has well done cliffhangers, it still felt a little too familiar for me. I wish I had read this version first! Nonetheless, Ahdieh leaves us with an epic cliffhanger, and thankfully book two, The Rose and the Dagger, just came out this year!