Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12th 2015
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
After losing her best friend to Khalid and his tradition of killing his wives the morning after they marry, Shahrzad becomes his new bride, determined to survive the night and determined to kill Khalid for what he took from her and what he’s taken from every family who gave him one of their daughters as a wife. When Khalid comes to her the night they wed she already knows he will not kill her and instead she tells him a story; a story of a clever thief, a powerful genie, and a dangerous and deadly mountain which tears the iron from ships. She tells him a story and keeps telling him stories every night, and the following morning she is still alive.
Neither of them trust the other at first, and they are right not to. For Shahrzad Khalid is the one who not only murdered her best friend but every other girl he has been married to. How can she confide in him about her past, about where her family is hidden, or even about the reasons she agreed to become his wife knowing his monstrous reputation? As for Khalid he knows if he tells Shahrzad the truth it will weigh on her shoulders; it will be a burden she will forever bear like himself, his uncle, and his cousin and he refuses to do that to her.
As the two spend more time together, Khalid listening to the stories his wife weaves and Shahrzad plotting how to get her husband alone so she can kill him, the two start to see another side to one another; and when Shahrzad finally has an opportunity she is unable to take it. Their relationship begins to change from then on. Trust and friendship starts to develop, a fledging bond that both of them step on more than once, hurting the other in ways they are unaware of. But gradually love grows between them, love that is further solidified when Khalid reveals the truth behind the murders of all his wives before Shahrzad.
But as Shahrzad slowly sees a new side to Khalid the family and friends she left behind still believe he is a monster. They are determined to save her from the threat her husband poses, and every sunrise she survives gives them more hope, and makes them more desperate to act before it’s too late. Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart Tariq travels deep into the desert, stirring up a rebellion against Khalid before going to the Rey hoping to kill the boy-king and escape with Shahrzad. Meanwhile Shahrzad’s father is delving into dark magic hoping to amass the power necessary to help Tariq in his quest to end Khalid and save Shahrzad.
Shahrzad is an incredibly strong character, willing to do anything necessary to take out a boy she believes is a monster before he can hurt someone else the way he hurts those left behind. She is also very smart and soon becomes a force to be reckoned with. Despite the power Khalid holds over her and her life she refuses to be cowed by him and is constantly going toe to toe with him, demanding respect from her husband.
Both Khalid and Shahrzad are very similar in a lot of ways. They are both smart, slow to trust, guarded and deadly in their own way. Shahrzad uses her silver tongue and a bow and arrow to fend off enemies. Khalid uses his ability as the second best swordsman in the Rey and his wisdom. Both of them have secrets from the other and neither are willing to open up, but they are both determined to discover what the other person is keeping from them.
I really liked the way the relationship between the two of them develops. As Shahrzad and Khalid try and navigate their marriage their relationship slowly begins to grow. They reach out to one another, trusting even when they have no reason to, and the feelings that grew between them felt natural. Khalid admires Shahrzad, she’s a curiosity to him but it’s her stories that enrapture him first. The more sunsets she survives the more admirable traits he sees in her; the fierceness for the people she loves, the courage, the wit, the intelligence. There is a lot about Shahrzad to be admired.
It isn’t just the budding relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid that I enjoyed about this book. Shahrzad and her handmaiden Despina, who admits at the very beginning to being a spy but also becomes a friend and confident to the new queen, sharp-tongued and brutally honest about everything. Khalid and Jalal, who only wants to see his cousin unburdened by the curse that was placed on him, who sees the good that Shahrzad brings out in Khalid and encourages their relationship. Even the relationship between Shahrzad and Tariq was interesting to read, a boy she loved as a child who is determined to save her from the boy-king he believes is a monster.
The setting for The Wrath and the Dawn was very well-developed. Everything from the fashions, to the markets, to the customs was well described and only added to the story and the exotic land full of curses and magic where this book was set. I hadn’t read the original Shahrzad myth before starting The Wrath and the Dawn so I honestly had no clue what to expect going into this story. Obviously I knew the basics; that a bride survives her new husband’s tendency of killing all his wives by telling him a story, and leaving it on such a cliffhanger that he dare not kill her before finding out what happens next. In The Wrath and the Dawn the stories Shahrzad tells are wonderful to read, I found myself hooked the same as Khalid as she began her tales each night. A knowledge of the original Shahrzad’s tale isn’t necessary to enjoy this book, but I think it’ll help set up the story if you have a basic understanding of the original myth.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a brilliant book, an unforgettable story of magic, love and betrayal with the fantastical stories Shahrzad tells her husband of Aladdin and Bluebeard, thieves and genies woven throughout the pages.
What did you think of The Wrath and the Dawn? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.