The Wrath & The Dawn (The Wrath & The Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh (2015)
YA Fiction | Romance | Fantasy
“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?”
pooled ink Review:
Okay I have finally read the first book in this popular series! There were things I liked and things I didn’t like as much, as it usually goes with books and opinions 😉, but overall it was a quick read that I enjoyed and I can’t wait to read what happens next!
The Wrath & The Dawn is inspired by the famous Scheherazade or Shahrazad, the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights (if you somehow don’t know what that is then perhaps you’re familiar with the story of Aladdin? Disney made a couple movies?). Firstly the Aladdin movies were some of my favorite Disney movies as a kid (right up there with the Lion King movies and Mulan) so anytime I find a retelling of anything related to Shahrazad I get excited. Second of all, if you haven’t listened to the symphonic suite “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov then you need to. It contains one of the most beautiful violin solos I’ve ever heard.
So all of this to say that I’ve been really excited about reading this series ever since it was published.
With regards to how closely this supposed inspiration goes, I’d say it sticks pretty close to its source material when used. Drawing from the original legend of this woman who spins a story so well that the king cannot kill her until he hears its ending remains the foundation for the plot and then Ahdieh builds these characters and this world from there, pushing the story further and fuller.
I really felt as if this version of Shahrazad brought her spirit and will to life as well as managing to include little glimpses of a few of the entrancing thousand and one stories without having them take up too much time, drag down or distract from the plot. The famous tales are sprinkled throughout the book and shown how they were both her salvation and her weapon. They marked her cleverness, her determination, and her gift.
This book follows the classic “enemies to lovers” trope which I typically enjoy and overall this was a really quick read. I was able to finish it in surprisingly little time which was nice as that meant it kept me happily engaged and I really appreciated how despite this being mostly a romance, Ahdieh was able to broaden the scope of the story into something more.
Of the characters Shahrazad and Khalid were my favorite (not really an original answer as they’re also the main characters), but I also really loved getting to now Despina, Shahrazad’s Greek handmaiden, and Jalal, Khalid’s cousin and Captain. I’m also very curious to know more about Musa, the tutor with an enchanted carpet.
As far as the romance goes I’ve already said it follows a common trope but it’s one I tend to enjoy reading. The only thing I didn’t really like was how quickly it all happened. I felt like there were too many holes and tiny issues that kept me from really loving it. I mean, I understood how Khalid could fall in love with Shazi, but I simply didn’t buy her falling in love with him so fast. Khalid is the madman who kills his brides, the murderous king, the villain she has hated tenfold since he killed her best friend, and yet it takes maybe a day for her body to react to his gaze and for her heart to question everything. I just feel like a hatred that is supposedly so deep and righteous should take a bit more time than it did to dissolve and transform into love.
(Now if you want an “enemies to lovers” story that really holds on stubbornly to the “enemies” part then check out The Fallen World trilogy by Laura Thalassa. If you’d rather get to the happy love stuff quickly then this (and most YA) is more your speed)
Okay and now for the quasi-love triangle in this book. Technically there is a love-triangle but honestly she falls for Khalid so fast that Tariq becomes an inconvenience haha. Tariq, in theory, is exactly what a girl might want. He’s a man willing and determined to swoop in and fight the odds to rescue the woman he loves…but he’s also stubborn, arrogant, and rash.
Furthermore as time goes by and you get to know Khalid better, Tariq quickly becomes a rock in your shoe. Actually everyone begins to understand that Khalid truly cares for his wife and that Shazi just might love him back. It becomes apparent that she might not be in mortal danger anymore but of course nothing can derail Tariq and his stubborn blind love for his childhood sweetheart. He fights for what once was, for what might have been, but the circumstances have shifted and Shazi has changed with them leaving Tariq to face a battle of empty wishes.
Tariq becomes annoying because it’s way too easy to join Team Khalid, and Shazi’s father’s foolish guilt I had no time for even if I understood it. Honestly I tended to skim Tariq’s and Jahandar’s chapters because they either felt annoying or unnecessary.
Speaking of Jahandar, while this book is historical fiction in a general sense there is also a fantasy element as magic subtly weaves its way throughout the plot. And while it fit in some places, in others it honestly felt a bit unnecessary to the story and actually the chapters with Jahandar meddling with magic felt distracting from the main plot. I get that it all comes together, etcetera etcetera but…I just didn’t feel like it quite proved itself vital to the plot (except for Khalid’s secret…). I remain unconvinced however I’m sure the role of magic and its users will take a larger role in the next book (and if not then why?).
My last nitpick is the writing in general. It didn’t really flow for me, it felt a bit choppy and fake/forced/formal. I got used to it though, and I’ve already said I enjoyed reading this book, so it’s not really a big deal.
Okay I know I spent too much time on the small little things that didn’t vibe with me, but honestly this was a good book and I actually want to read what happens next. Wait…they get a happy ending right? Right??? I sped through this book so fast and found myself truly caught up in the characters and curious to know how it will all end. One thing I do know for sure though is that it’ll get a lot worse before it get’s better.
If you love romance, middle-eastern tales of love and war, feisty females and stubborn males, then this just might be the book for you. Shazi was easy to love, Khalid was the perfect monster with a secret, Despina was the bold friend Shazi needed, and Jalal was the joker who kept Khalid from fading. Oh, and there’s Tariq, the handsome knight on a white horse who also happens to be an annoying rock in one’s shoe.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a tale ancient and retold, spun with fire and desire amongst monsters and vengeance, all twined together with a power none expected but one that survives the dawn.
Purchase here: The Wrath & The Dawn
Similar recommended reads: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Meet Renée Ahdieh!
I live in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with my husband Victor and our dog Mushu. In my spare time, I like to cook, mess with makeup, and wreak havoc on the lives of my characters.
2 thoughts on “The Wrath & The Dawn”
Wow, really like the plot you are describing for this one. Despite the flaws you mentioned, this is certainly a novel that I would love to check out at some point. Great post! 😊
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Thanks! I hope you do get a chance to read it, it definitely had a great take on an old tale!
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