- The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh
Rating: * * * * *
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 2015
Goodreads synopsis: 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 started ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ on Friday and read it in a day, because I absolutely could not put this Arabian Nights retelling down. Renee Ahdieh is herself a Sharhzad, able to craft addictive and imaginative stories which leave her audience enthralled and bursting for more.
One of the main aspects of this novel that led me to enjoy it so much was its characters. Shazi was a wonderful lead – strong, silver-tongued and, of course, a great storyteller. She always had a witty retort up her sleeve and her comebacks brought a lot of humour to the novel. She also was not afraid to provoke the Caliph with probing and meaningful stories, like Bluebeard. My favourite part of her character was that while we saw her great courage, we also saw that she was not completely fearless – through her narration, we witnessed the worries she harboured underneath, and that made her more relatable and made me feel closer to her.
I also really liked many other characters, including: Despina, who is Shazi’s handmaiden and is a match for her in wit – she and Shazi’s friendship was really enjoyable; Jalal, who was charming and amusing but also fiercely loyal to Shazi and his king; Shazi’s father, Jahandar, whose use of magic intrigued me and is something I look forward to seeing more of in the next book; and, of course, Khalid, the Caliph who values honesty above all things and comes out with beautiful lines like this one:
‘Love is – a shade of what I feel.’
Lines like that are abundant in the novel and have convinced me that no one writes romance quite as mesmerisingly as Renee Ahdieh.
Renee Ahdieh is extremely talented at writing both dialogue and description. The descriptions in ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ were captivating and very atmospheric, creating rich and vivid images. I especially found this for the scene where Khalid and Shazi left the castle and passed all the market stalls. I really loved the stunning descriptions of Shazi and Despina’s clothes, too. The dialogue was at times witty and at other points very moving, but always very fluid and powerful. Additionally, I enjoyed Khalid’s letters, which had great emotional depth to them.
All in all, ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ was fantastic – it’s the kind of novel that you wish to reread and relive as soon as you have finished it. It swept me away into a vividly imagined world, and I’m so glad that I waited until now to read it, since I only have a couple of days left until I can return to that dazzling world and the awesome characters therein in the sequel.
‘The Rose and the Dagger’ comes out on April 26th.