Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Genres: YA | Fantasy | Romance | Retelling
Published: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
My rating: 
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Well, I can't say I'm utterly disappointed by this book, but I'm not exactly bewitched by it either. I'm floating somewhere in the middle and currently drowning in my confusion.

The story follows the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan who takes a new bride every night only to have her executed at sunrise. When Shahrazad's sister faces the wrath of dawn, she arms herself with the need for vengeance and volunteers to be the Caliph's bride with a plan to extend her execution by telling him a story, letting the anticipation build and promising to tell him what comes next only if he lets her live one more day.

While it may sound a bit ludicrous a reason to let her live, I found the aspect really intriguing. It showcases the power of words and I guess even a Caliph isn't invincible to the taunts of cliffhangers. Damn these cliffhangers.

One thing I loved was the Middle Eastern setting of the book. The detail given to the culture was absolutely marvellous and proved quite handy in making the book more sui generis than it would have been otherwise. From architecture to the food, to the people, everything was brought to life with beautiful descriptions and sensory details. And the dialogues. Wondrous.

As much as I wanted to like Shazi, she felt a bit flat to me and I might have liked her better had she set her priorities straight. But well, we know how these love/hate relationships go. The heroine goes in with a plan but she falls in love and the plan is disrupted, ya-da. But Shazi..was a bit too hesitant for my liking and since the progress of the romance was lost on me I failed to see WHY she was straying away from her purpose. It was irritating, if anything, having to witness her thoughts contradict her actions.

I did love Khalid. A lot. To smithereens. He was everything Shazi's character could have been - complex, intense, enigmatic and charming and I love myself a broken character every once in a while. I only questioned his character when it came to his feelings for Shazi.

I've been trying to figure out why Shazi was so special from all the other girls who were executed. WHAT exactly was about her that Khalid lost his wits about and was willing to risk a lot of things for her sake? Khalid had no answers that didn't screambullshit and lame excuse for romance to me because it's like any other girl could have taken Shazi's place and it wouldn't have made a difference to the story.

There wasn't anything remarkable about her personality, as far as I'm concerned. So was it the peculiar shape of her buttocks as she stood under the moonlit garden?

You know what I loved the most, though? The secondary characters. My favorites were Despina with her sharp tongue and humor, and Jalal with his smooth words and carefree nature. We SADLY don't get their POVs. I already ship it though.

"For Shahrzad bore silent witness to the truth. It was only for an instant, and they never glanced at each other. Yet, she wondered how anyone could miss it—the subtle shift in Jalal’s shoulders, and the telltale tilt to Despina’s head."

I'd sell my brothers for a book about Despina and Jalal.

Apart from all that, there were hints of magic, a whiff of action here and there (especially after the 70% mark which was also my favorite part AND the part which completely broke me) and many promises of more to come.

Curiosity wins over and I need the next book in my life.