I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
The Wrath and the Dawn has all the elements of an amazing story. It has a strong heroine, intriguing plot, moral ambiguity, a complex cast of characters that inspire all sorts of internal emotional turmoil. Basically, set phasers to LET ME LOVE YOU. Even for those like me who haven’t read A Thousand and One Nights, can appreciate the rich setting and visually stunning descriptions. And I can’t tell you how happy I am to say that I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn and I’m hoping many of my friends will give it a chance.
Sharhrzad (Shazi), desperate to avenge her best friend’s murder, decides to volunteer as tribute to be the next wife of the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid. He’s known as a ruthless ruler, who kills all his wives at dawn the day after he weds. Why is a mystery to everyone including Shazi, who really doesn’t care either way, and I don’t blame her. Of course, as the reader can surmise from the synopsis, there’s something more going on than meets the eye. As Shazi gets to know Khalid, she learns he’s not what she thought he’d be and is conflicted that she finds it increasingly difficult to hate him, and more importantly, to kill him. And while that is all going on, we have Tariq, who, for all intents and purposes, was Shazi’s boyfriend/betrothed before she took on the suicidal task of killing the Caliph. He struggles with his own feelings of Shazi’s impending death (really, no one expected her to live to see the day after her wedding night) and is determined to rescue her at all costs. Little does he know, Shazi falls in love with Khalid and things get a little… messy.
Told in a 3rd person point-of-view, The Wrath and the Dawn seeks to cover a lot of story, which it both succeeds and fails at. I’m not usually a fan of 3rd person because it makes me feel detached from the characters and their feelings, but in this case, it worked out well for me. The reader is able to get a good feel on all the characters’ intentions and struggles, and that’s a feat consider how many characters are introduced over the course of this novel.
The downside to this is that I wasn’t able to fully connect with any characters on an emotional level, let alone the romance, because it simply didn’t get much page time. For that reason, I would have preferred for this book to have been longer OR less page time for the supporting cast for at least the first half so that I could see Sahzi and Khalid’s interactions more. I didn’t have enough build up to have the emotional response lines like these should have set off:
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
“Love is—a shade of what I feel.”
Believe me when I say these were beautiful scenes, but I didn’t swoon, and that makes me rather sad. Currently, the romance is getting huge praise from other reviewers, so your milage may vary, but, I felt it lacked a certain spark.
The writing itself is very lovely and flows in a magical fashion befitting the setting of the novel. Ahdieh’s set the perfect tone with her descriptions and the dialogue was both thought provoking and witty a good portion of the time. Some of my favorite lines came from Despina, Shazi’s handmaiden:
“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”
“I am not a fool.”
“No, you’re not. Not yet.”
This is probably why 3rd person worked so well in The Wrath and the Dawn. The characters and their interactions always felt genuine and personable and not flat like cardboard. They weren’t always likable, especially Khalid with his tug-a-war like personality, but he was consistently complex. I would guess that my feelings toward him mirrored Shazi’s frustration at his lack of trust. He spends much of his time trying to atone for what he’s done, but can’t bring himself to fully trust her with his secret and the reason behind the deaths of his previous wives.
Yet, while beautiful and lush in its own right, The Wrath and the Dawn is not without its faults. You do have your obligatory mentions of the love interest’s eyes and how the female main character seems to be the only one to ever truly bring the love interest out of his broken shell. The former is what bothered me the most throughout the novel simply because I couldn’t really see what it was about Shazi that he was drawn to. Was it her snarky bluntness? Her beauty? The fact that he didn’t understand why she volunteered to be his wife, knowing what her fate would be? I have no idea. I was also a bit surprised (and disappointed?) that Shazi’s only plan to survive the dawn was to tell the Caliph a story and deliberately end it on a cliffhanger as the sun rose to generate anticipation from Khalid. Well, okay. It certainly gives new meaning to stories having power, that’s for sure.
Then there were times when Shazi felt deliberately obtuse when it came to Khalid and his secrets. When there were multiple attempts on her life and Khalid himself jumps to save her and reprimand those who tried to do her bodily harm, she still continues to blame him for the attempts. That seemed odd and out of character for Shazi since she is written as very observant and sharp. To her credit, she does start to question happenings shortly after, but this misstep felt too contrived and forced.
The final 30% is where this novel truly shined for me since all chips are laid out on the table and characters’ true intentions are revealed. I admit to being pleasantly surprised and saddened by one in particular. The stakes will definitely be higher in the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger and I look forward to seeing things get complicated. Also, I’m really hoping for a magic carpet ride.
All in all, The Wrath and the Dawn is a strong start to a promising new series. The pros in the novel far outweigh the small cons, which could admittedly be attributed to my cynical mind and lack of a functioning heart. Don’t let that stop you from picking this up.
Follow the Rest of the Tour
The Young Folks – Guest post – May 11
Two Chicks on Books – interview – May 12
Once Upon a Twilight – interview – May 13
Addicted Readers – review – May 14
Cuddlebuggery – review – May 15 (You are here!)
The Eater of Books! – Top 10 list – May 18
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Mostly YA Book Obsessed – character profiles/Where I See Fashion – May 20
Gone with the Words – interview – May 21
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Read.Breathe.Relax. – interview – May 25
The Daily Quirk – review – May 26
The Irish Banana – Would You Rather? – May 27
No BS Book Reviews – review – May 28
Me, My Shelf and I – 25 Random Things – May 29
Penguin Teen is giving away a hardcover copy of The Wrath and the Dawn along with 3 scarves.
Penguin sent me the pink scarf pictured above and it’s very pretty in person. It was smaller than I expected, so it kind of limited my options, but I got a little creative. Ascot, dog scarf, a super hero cape for your kid, head scarf! There are so many uses!
- To enter, please fill out the Raffelcopter form below.
- The giveaway is open to US only.
- When the winners are chosen, the winners will be emailed by Penguin.
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