Review: The Wrath and The Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh
Published by Penguin Random House Australia on the 12th May 2015
Pages: 388
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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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.

This one was a mixed read for me. The second half was definitely stronger than the first – while the first half left me feeling underwhelmed, after that ending I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book.

The Wrath and the Dawn is an angsty romance inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. However, although this book was a romance, there were a lot of things I enjoyed about it, namely that the world was very different to typical YA worlds. Taking place in a world inspired by the Middle East, it was a breath of fresh air to see a world that wasn’t inspired by Medieval Europe. The supporting cast were three-dimensional and add something to the story. Shazi’s friendship with Despina is heartwarming and a much-needed female companion for her; Jalal charming and witty.

However, there was something missing – the writing felt stilted and emotionally distant. It was never explained why Khalid chose to let Shazi live beyond the first night. Shazi was given multiple opportunities to ~exact her revenge~ on Khalid, but she never does because there was a slight case of instalove, in that despite the fact Shazi offers to marry Khalid in order to kill him, two days into their marriage he’s already tugging on her heartstrings. The romance, while compelling, didn’t feel organic in the beginning.

Shazi’s retellings of the Arabian nights didn’t really add anything to the story – I found myself skimming some of them in order to get back to the main story because they were clumsily inserted and had zero subtext and I didn’t feel any emotional connection.

Finally, there’s a love triangle, which I could do without. I felt that it existed to make a ‘bad guy’ out of Tariq – because, honestly, you just know that Tariq and Shazi aren’t going to end up together, regardless of whether Shazi and Khalid end up together.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been shelving The Wrath and the Dawn as a fantasy, but it doesn’t have any fantastical elements to it – a few mentions of magic here and there, but nothing really to warrant a fantasy label. It felt more like a historical romance than anything else.


Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.

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