The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
Publishing Info: April 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (first published May 2015)
Star Rating: 3/5
Back Cover Summary:
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.
At the start, I wasn’t very keen on this book. I had problems with it in the first few pages. As it went on and I got to know the characters it grew on me. Although I wasn’t completely gripped, I did want to know what was going to happen. By the end I liked it, but didn’t love it.
At the beginning of the book it feels like being dumped in the middle of the story. I guess I liked that it got straight to the point and didn’t dawdle with stretched out set-up, but this also meant that I didn’t get a chance to know the characters before they were thrown in at the deep end. The first time we see Shazi is in the palace, and there are hardly any thoughts and emotions from her for the reader to be able to get to know her before things get going. All the characters felt bland in the first couple of chapters. I didn’t care about any of them, and maybe that’s because the reader isn’t given a chance to get to know them before stuff starts happening.
The characters were okay once the book got going. There was a serious lack of thoughts and emotions from the characters most of the way through though. This meant that sometimes I didn’t understand what they were thinking and why they were doing the things they were, which just resulted in me getting frustrated. I liked that the protagonist, Shazi, was a strong character, however she came across as too bratty sometimes which annoyed me. As ‘love interests’ go, I thought Khalid was good. I liked that there was more to his past and his personality than the cool exterior he presents (not that this is anything new for a love interest mind you).
I don’t really know much about A Thousand and One Nights (which is what it is a retelling of) so wasn’t really sure what sort of thing to expect (or, having finished The Wrath and the Dawn, how it compares to the original source material). I liked that the setting was quite different to most YA fantasy stories as it was something different to read.
Overall I liked it, but I had some problems with it. There were a few instances of head-hopping which was very off-putting as that should have been ironed out in the editing process. I found the ending annoying because it didn’t tie things up so now I feel inclined to read the second book, even though I didn’t love this one, just to find out what happens.