The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #1
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on 5/12/15
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, but it’s not shown in detail)
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.
I had heard nothing but rave reviews for this book, so I was eager to read it, but when I heard the series was going to be a duology, I decided to hold off and read both books together. I’m really glad I did because I actually wasn’t quite as enthralled with the first book as most people seemed to be (which isn’t to say that I didn’t like it – I just had a few issues, which I’ll talk about below), but I ADORED the second book. So, this series was a definite win for me!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Persian backdrop. I absolutely adored the setting of this book! The desert, the culture, the clothing, the weapons, the food … I loved it all. Even the parts of the Persian culture that weren’t lovable (like the way women were treated) added authenticity and interest to the story.
- A tragic curse. The aspect of the book that pulled me in the most was the curse, though. You knew right from the start that Khalid was not truly the monster he was portrayed to be – you knew there had to be a reason for his horrific actions, but what could it be? That mystery sustained me for most of the book! I loved Khalid from the very start (even if I didn’t quite understand the connection between him and Shahrzad at first) and his tragic story just made me adore him more. And it added such a dramatic sense of urgency to the story – the people around Khalid began to love Shahrzad, but everyone had their guard up around her. They didn’t want to love her because they knew what had to happen – Shahrzad had to die.
- Shahrzad. If you’re a fan of feisty protagonists, Shahrzad is perfect! She is headstrong and intelligent and willing to give her very life for the things she believes in! Of course, her blossoming feelings for Khalid cause her much consternation – after all, she came to the palace to kill her best friend’s murderer not to fall in love with him. I felt for Shahrzad throughout the entire book – felt her pain over losing her best friend, her ire at the man who took lives with seemingly no remorse, her confusion as she started to have feelings for that very same man, and her frustration at being kept in the dark. I could relate to her and I wanted to see her get a happy ending!
- A touch of magic. This story has a bit of magic in it, though it didn’t really play a large part in the story until the end. Still, it was a fun addition to the story!
What Left Me Wanting More:
- Issues with the romance. I have to admit that, as much as I wanted to love this book as much as everyone else seemed to, I had a hard time at first with the romance. I just never understood why Khalid fell instantly in love with Shahrzad or why he allowed her to live in the first place. There are a couple of slight explanations given (Khalid had supposedly had a dream the night before Shahrzad came to the palace that he believed meant something about her and Shahrzad’s stories reminded Khalid of those his mother used to tell him when he was a child), but I just wasn’t buying them. And I didn’t feel a true connection between the characters for quite some time because of it. It was also a bit disturbing to see these two start off their relationship with Shahrzad basically “allowing” Khalid to consummate the marriage (even though it definitely made sense in the context of the story). BUT I did like Shahrzad’s slow realization that Khalid was not who she thought he was. I was actually pretty happy with the relationship development from Shahrzad’s side of things – it was Khalid’s side that I just didn’t understand.
- Tariq’s POV. Sometimes I got just a little bit restless during Tariq’s portions of the book. I was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to end up with Shahrzad, so I definitely felt bad for him, but I didn’t care about him much beyond that. By the end, though, I could see more how his story tied in with the main story, so that made his POV much more interesting to me.
I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it quite as much as everyone else seemed to. Still, by the end, I was completely won over and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened in the second book! I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
If you haven’t read The Wrath & the Dawn yet, I’d stop here and skip my review of The Rose & the Dagger (it will contain spoilers for the first book!)
The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.
Well, if I wasn’t quite as enthralled with the first book as I wanted to be, that certainly wasn’t the case with this second book! Everything that I loved about the first book – the setting, the magic, headstrong, complex characters – it was all still there, but with this book I was fully invested in the romance (which was my major hangup with the first book), and we exchanged those pesky Tariq chapters with chapters from Khalid’s POV!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Lots more magic! There was a little bit of magic in the first book, but it wasn’t really a major part of the story. But that definitely changed in this second book. The magical elements were definitely stepped up in this one – especially since Shahrzad discovered she had an affinity for magic herself. In this book we get flying carpets, magical beings, and more of the book that caused mayhem at the end of the first book. I loved every minute of it!
- Higher stakes. It seemed like the danger for everyone was increased in this book. Of course, in the first book Shahrzad’s life was in danger, but you knew that nothing was actually going to happen to her. But in this second installment, things had escalated to a full-blown war – alliances were being made (and broken), battles were being fought, and Khalid’s kingdom was crumbling before his very eyes. Now that Shahrzad knew about the curse, she was determined to break it – or die trying. She was in a very precarious position with the rebels as well – as calipha she was the enemy, so she couldn’t let people see her true loyalties.
- The romance. In this book, I was 100% behind the romance, and the scenes with Khalid and Shahrzad were beyond swoonworthy! At first, I was worried that they would spend this whole second book apart, but they found their way back to each other (in a creative way!).
- Some amazing twists. There was a major revelation (and a few smaller ones) that blew me away – something that I wasn’t expecting at all!
What Left Me Wanting More:
- Missing friendship. I seriously missed the friendship between Khalid and Jalal in this book, and I was frustrated that Jalal didn’t give Khalid the benefit of the doubt when things went a certain way. I wished we could have seen more of the resolution between these two since they’d stood together through so much in the past.
- Curse broken too easily? When everything was said and done, the actual breaking of the curse seemed a bit too simplistic. I let that go, though, because there was so much else happening in the book to keep my brain occupied.
An extremely satisfying end to the series, filled with sumptuous visions of the Persian desert, intrigue, magic and more!! I loved this book far more than the first! I can easily give book two 4.5/5 stars.
The Moth & the Flame – A prequel that should be read after book one to avoid spoiling anything (though if you read it first, it would only provide small spoilers).
This tells us part of Despina’s story – how she fell in love with Jalal. It was sweet and gave us some insight into Despina’s character – what she was thinking and feeling (and one or two short sections were in Jalal’s POV too). I loved that it took place while Ava was in the castle, so we also got to see that from a slightly different perspective. Short stories are always so hard because, of course, I would have loved more, but I felt like this was long enough to give us a peek into Despina’s head! 4 Stars.
The Crown & the Arrow – A prequel that can be read at any time.
I was hoping that this (very) short story would give me some insight into why Khalid was so instantly enamored with Shahrzad, and I guess it did, but it certainly didn’t give much. It wasn’t enough to answer any of my questions about that. If you’re one of those people who loved the romance from the get-go, you’ll probably like this little extra dose of the feels. For me, it was just okay. 2 Stars.
The Mirror & the Maze – Can be read after book one but before book two.
This very short story gives us a little insight into what Khalid was doing and thinking when he found out that Shahrzad was gone (with Tariq!). It’s certainly not a necessary read, but it’s a quick little insight to his state of mind at that point. I would have liked a little bit more. (Was he regretting his decisions at all? Did he have even a moment where he felt like he did by choosing one woman over his country? Or did he only feel guilt over what happened with Ava originally). 3 Stars.
About the Renee Ahdieh:
I live in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with my husband Victor and our dog Mushu. My YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, is available wherever books are sold. Its sequel, THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER, will be published on April 26, 2016. In my spare time, I like to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of my characters.
I’m also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.