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.
My Rating: 5 stars
Hello bookworms and welcome back! Today I am presenting to you all a love-filled review of Renee Ahdieh’s debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn. This book blew me away with Ahdieh’s incredibly descriptive and imagery-style writing, wonderfully structured, complex and unique characters and compelling story with an intoxicating slow burn romance that left me ultimately screaming for the next book to be here. I WANT IT RIGHT NOW.
One hundred lives for the one you took. One life to one dawn. Should you fail but a single morn, I shall take from you your dreams. I shall take from you your city. I shall take from you these lives, a thousandfold.
As my usual way of writing reviews, I will start off this review by discussing the characters. Shahrzad, also known as Shazi is our main female protagonist. Full of hatred, despair and a hunger for revenge, she volunteers to become Khalid’s (the king/Caliph of Khorasan) wife.
Shazi is on my list of top female protagonists, right alongside Celaena from the Throne of Glass series. She is strong-willed, is not afraid to speak up for herself even if it means biting out a frankly rude comment. She respects herself immensely, and expects the same amount of respect in return from those around her, even from the king. This girl has guts I tell you!
“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I am a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.”
She is fierce, brave, arrogant (as Despina says), and stubborn. Along with all of this, she is a captivating story-teller and is skilled with a bow. It’s definitely no surprise that she has made it into the category of top female protagonists (not many get the privilege of being placed in this section).
If you would, give him the love that will enable him to see it for himself. To lost soul, such a treasure is worth it’s weight in gold. Worth it’s weight in dreams.
Next up we have Khalid, the Caliph (king) of Khorasan, the ‘murderous boy-king’. I’m in love with him. Totally and utterly and I’m personally planning to steal him for myself (don’t tell Shazi, okay?). Even from the beginning of the novel, despite that fact that whenever he takes a new wife he hangs them at dawn, I could not bring myself to thinking he was the cold, heartless monster that Shazi despised and wanted to kill.
His eyed widened at the brightness of her smile. And, to her great surprise, he offered her one in return. It looked foreign on his usually cold and angular face. Foreign, yet wondrously striking.
I just knew that there was something hidden beneath his cold and withdrawn demeanour. Khalid is very quiet and withdrawn and he is very distant, even to those closest to him. There is a darkness so unfathomable that the reader, nor Shazi, can pinpoint. Accompanying this, Khalid is dangerous. Why? He’s an extremely skilled swordsman and an intelligent man, in terms of strategy, which we get a slight glimpse of.
His story is revealed slowly but surely and the more I read and learnt about his story, the more my heart fell inexplicably in love and the more my heart simultaneously broke for him. And under his stone-hard demeanor and intimidating, cold presence, there is a beautiful heart of liquid gold.
Despina, Shazi’s handmaid is the next character I’d like to discuss. I loved her. She was a lovely addition to the story. She is sassy, arrogant and overall, the best handmaid I’ve ever read. There were plenty of moments of banter and conversation between Despina and Shazi that made me laugh out loud or smile. They are both arrogant and stubborn, which makes for such entertaining shenanigans and conversations. She was also a great friend for Shazi, and female friendships are always great in books, especially when the story is a romance-oriented one.
It is only fitting that I discuss Jalal next (those who have read the book will understand the coincidence, wink wink). Jalal is the Captain of the Guard and Khalid’s cousin. He is flirty, cocky and a very light-hearted man. He was a wonderful side character. What I adored about him was his carefree attitude and his ability to treat Khalid as a friend, rather than a king. He jokes and pushing Khalid, despite the wrath he knows Khalid could inflict. He reminds me of Lucien from A Court of Thorns and Roses! The story wouldn’t be the same without Jalal.
Jahandar, Shazi’s father, is the next character I’d like to discuss. He is very interesting indeed. I will not go into full details about him, for reasons I cannot say. He loves Shazi above everything. He comes off as very nervous and quite pathetic, a man who was torn by grief to the point where he couldn’t even function to raise his own children. However, after Shazi volunteers to be Khalid’s wife, Jahandar is desperate to do anything to get her back. There is a fierce determination that emanates from him when it comes to Shazi that proves to have some very interesting results in the novel. I don’t know how I feel about him, but after the ending, I am truly afraid.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about Tariq. Shazi’s childhood first love. I don’t like him. He’s strong-willed and determined to get Shazi back from the “monster boy-king”. He loves Shazi a great deal and this spurs him into action and into constructing quite a rebellion in order to get her. At first I didn’t mind him, but his stubborn nature and his ability to not accept what Shazi was saying to him made me ultimately want to punch him square in the face. I kept thinking: “please go home and do something more useful with your life!” (Oh dear, I’m so harsh. I’m sorry but nothing is allowed to come between Shazi and Khalid. NOTHING.)
ALRIGHT, that’s enough about characters. Let’s move on to the plot. This novel is a re-telling of A Thousand and One Nights, which I am personally not familiar with. But despite not being familiar with the story, it definitely did not detract from the enjoyment of the novel. I enjoyed it just as much, hence the 5 star rating.
She was drowning in sandalwood and sunlight. Time ceased to be more than a notion. Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sun-warmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat.
Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh.
The Wrath and the Dawn is ultimately a love story. It focusses around the relationship between Shazi and Khalid and the amazing development of their relationship. I absolutely adored the romance. It was a slow-burn romance that had me swooning. I ship Khalid and Shazi so hard. SO HARD. What is simply amazing about this book however, is that despite this being a romance-oriented novel, Ahdieh does an amazing job of weaving a plotline that focusses on more than just the romance between two characters. She gives us insight into the actions in different parts of the country and between different characters. She gives us sub-plots and mini events within the story that make it so much more realistic and entertaining. I love when an author can draw some attention away from the main plot while effectively keeping me engaged.
“My soul sees it’s equal in you.”
The pace is quite slow at the beginning, but what is so great about this novel is that it slowly builds up until, by the end of the novel, it hits it’s climax and you’re left feeling totally shocked and crying for the next book. At least, that’s what happened with me… Things get intense guys. And THAT CLIFFHANGER IS TOTALLY TORTUROUS.
Next comes writing style. Renee Ahdieh’s writing style is one of the biggest highlights of this novel. It’s probably one of the most beautiful writing styles I’ve never come across. It’s intricately descriptive to the point where I can see and feel the descriptions that she makes. Ahdieh is exceptionally skilled with imagery and descriptive language and from the first page, it is evident. The countless names within the book may confuse you at first, but you get used to it. Renee Ahdieh is an amazing story-teller. Not just with the book, but with the stories within this book. They were simply wonderful.
Blistering waves of heat rose from a sea of umber and adobe, rippling into patches of blue and white across the sky.