Hello readers! Today, I review The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh, a newly beloved author that I’ve been following! This is a beautiful tale with Indian and Middle Eastern influences, and Ahdieh’s signature poetic prose. I was very intrigued by the premise of this book and how it drew elements of One Thousand and One Nights, specifically Scheherazade and her storytelling. Check out the Goodreads Summary below!
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?
I’ve always been fascinated by Scheherazade, and how she weaved the tales of Ali Baba and Aladdin to keep herself alive. As a young reader and aspiring author, this was evidence of the power of storytelling.
Out spunky heroine, Shahrzad keeps death at bay in the same way, by lulling Khalid with these same tales. The close similarities to source material didn’t bother me. What did bother me was how wholly uninspired I found Shahrzad’s storytelling to be. I didn’t glean anything special or different from the way she told her tales, and was wholly confused by the so-called murderous Caliph’s interest in them. Surely he’s heard more compelling versions of these stories told? This isn’t a dig at Ahdieh’s writing- it’s beautiful as always, but I wish Shahrzad could have elevated her storytelling somehow to show us, in this world of magic, how special she truly was.
The romance between Shahrzad and Khalid was absolutely incinerating. It could definitely be cheesy to some people, as they were paired together within the first few pages of the book, and their romance is inevitable based on the book’s description. But personally, I loved the romance because of the different places Shahrzad and Khalid were coming from. Both were hesitant to fall in love, yet both could not avoid falling. I won’t spoil anything else, but some of the romantic gestures in The Wrath and the Dawn were just lovely and so very sweet.
However, while the romance- arguably one of the biggest plot lines of the book- was done beautifully in my opinion, character development was rather flat. Some of the banter didn’t come off as witty as Ahdieh might have intended- in some moments, the banter was very haughty and didn’t fit the scene. We meet a variety of other characters, including Shahrzad’s father and sister, and those close to Khalid. One of my least favorite characters was Shahrzad’s father- I absolutely couldn’t stand the scenes with him in them. In a book where the protagonist (his daughter!) is portrayed to be strong of both mind and body, I had a difficult time believing some of his internal conflicts.
The Wrath and the Dawn is the first book in a duology, so yes, it ends with a killer cliffhanger! I picked up the second book, The Rose and the Dagger, immediately and finished it within days. Even though The Wrath and the Dawn was a tad bit disappointing based on how hyped I was, the second book wrapped everything up beautifully, and I was so happy that I continued with the duology!
I rate The Wrath and the Dawn 3/5 stars!