“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh
4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Shahrzad has revenge on her mind. After her best friend, Shiva, was murdered by King of Khorasan, she made up her mind to make the heartless man pay for the light he snuffed out. Shiva was bright and wonderful and Shahrzad can’t bear another day that her best friend doesn’t get the justice she deserves. The King of Khorasan may be nearly untouchable, but Shahrzad has figured out how to repay Khalid for all that he stole from the world…
After being married to Khalid and becoming the Calipha of Khorasan, Shahrzad is closer than ever to obtaining her revenge, but unforeseen events happen and she discovers something that shouldn’t exist, something that should be impossible: Khalid, the King of Khorasan, has a heart. Khalid barely resembles the cold monster from Shahrzad’s nightmares, and her traitorous heart begins to wonder if there is more to this boy than the monster she imagined?
The longer Shahrzad stays in Rey as Khalid’s wife, the more realizes that nothing is as it seems within her husband’s palace. Webs of secrecy and mystery surround the caliph, and Shahrzad is determined to uncover the truth behind why every dawn a girl of Khorasan was murdered, and understand the reason for Khalid sparing her for as long as he has. Shahrzad’s stories are only a part of why she still takes breath, and she is racing against the clock to uncover the truth underneath of the lies before her time rounds out like the girls who proceeded her.
Renée Ahdieh’s writing style was truly beautiful to read. Renée had a rich vocabulary that painted elegant and three-dimensional scenes, and I was shocked by how her style of storytelling immediately pulled me into “The Wrath and the Dawn.” Normally it takes me a chapter or two before I adjust to an author’s style, but Renée had my attention from the start, and I can honestly say that I loved her way with words. Everything she described was done so with rich detail, making me feel like I could reach out and touch it, and I found that to be very impressive. I love reading a book and feeling like I am being transported to another time or a different land as I turn its pages, and that’s exactly what Renée achieved in “The Wrath and the Dawn.” While reading “The Wrath and the Dawn,” I loved how Renée’s words moved me, and the only thing that I wasn’t the hugest fan of in this amazing book was Shahrzad.
I know that sounds like a huge thing NOT to like about a book, her being the heroine and all, but it honestly made no difference in my love for this story. I never felt like I connected with Shazi as a character while I read “The Wrath and the Dawn,” but I also didn’t hate her. She was angry and bitter because best friend, Shiva, had been murdered by Khalid. Shazi was out for revenge from page one, and although I wasn’t particularly fond of her voice, I understood her desperate need to make Khalid pay for his crimes against Shiva. I could respect her hate for him, but I had a really hard time feeling compassion towards her because of her sometimes petulant and childish behavior. Shazi acted like an entitled brat most of the time, and her metal haughtiness was kind of irritating and overpowering at certain moments in “The Wrath and the Dawn.” Honestly, who do you think you are to treat others as beneath you when you’re no one of real consequence, Shazi? She even got super offended when Khalid walked away from her at one point in the story, and the whole time I was thinking, “Really? You still hate him at this point in the story, yet you are offended when he doesn’t indulge your irrational mood?” *sighs* What I wanted to know was where she had learned to act so superior? I even felt like Khalid, who was a king, was more grounded and humble than her at times, and he treated others with a larger measure of respect than she ever did.
Please don’t misunderstand what I just wrote: I don’t believe that social or economic standing have any bearing on whether you’re important or not. We’re all humans with feelings, and it doesn’t matter whether your rich or poor, royal or a factory worker, because we all deserve equal rights, opportunities, and to be treated with respect in the same measure that we give it to others. With Shazi’s character, what popped out to me with her personality was that she came off as brazen and haughty instead of courageous and bold. I get that Renée Ahdieh was trying to make her come off as “larger than life” and , dare I say, ballsy, but sadly for me, Shazi did not come off that way.
I know that it seems like I hated Shahrzad, but I didn’t. Her childish and bratty responses only caused me to be kind of dispassionate towards her character rather than liking of disliking her; I didn’t want to see harm come to her but I also wasn’t really rooting for her to come out on tope either. All this being said, my dispassion for Shazi never made me waver in my love for Renée Ahdieh’s writing style and her wonderfully designed world.
Shahrzad aside, though, I found Khalid to be a really interesting character. Khalid had done a lot of bad things before “The Wrath and the Dawn” ever began, but he was far from the monster I expected. He had a lot of secrets that didn’t get revealed until the last fifty pages, but piece by piece the puzzle of who he was and why he had committed those heartless crimes began to make sense. What he did was wrong, but his moral dilemma made sense while I read “The Wrath and the Dawn,” and my heart ached for him. Maybe something was/is wrong with me, but even before any of those secrets started to be uncovered, I grew to love Khalid; every scene he was in was my favorite, and I he felt like such a rich, dynamic character to me.
As I said before, Khalid proved to be less arrogant than Shahrzad despite how he was raised. There were also a few moments when I could see that he understood that he was just a boy with far to many burdens to bear, that his status as King of Khorasan did not make him impervious or untouchable. Khalid may not have been arrogant, but he was hot-tempered, and this trait, made worse by his strong-willed personality and precarious situation, was one of his greatest downfalls. He may not have been brat like Shazi sometimes was, but he was definitely not without his flaws. Somehow, though, his weakness and faults only made my heart ache all the more for this him. Khalid’s position due to his “curse” caused me to have compassion for him when I probably should have disliked him, and I think it is interesting that Khalid, who was the “bad guy,” moved me to strong emotions whereas I was stone cold towards Shazi, the character I should have been sympathizing with.
I really have to commend Renée Ahdieh on how she swayed my heart concerning Khalid. I usually dislike male characters like him because of their bad-boy, broody attitude and “misunderstood” actions, but Renée wove such an incredibly story around him. Khalid was truly misunderstood due to the secrets he had to keep and the things he did; interestingly enough, he wasn’t wicked or manipulative like the generic bad-boys authors tend to write. Renée Ahdieh caused me to see the humanity existing within him, see the heart he had, and understand the boy who had been turned into something cruel and cold without his consent. Khalid was a smart, cunning, and unassuming figure that stood silently but was always present in a scene. Khalid was tangible and I wanted to fully understand him and to discover who he actually was, I wanted to see the person he could have been if he hadn’t been dealt such a cruel hand in life; Renée Ahdieh accomplished all I wanted and more concerning Khalid’s character. I was especially impressed by Renée’s phenomenal job of developing Khalid in “The Wrath and the Dawn” despite him not having the most page time; when he was present, he made it count.
The romance between Khalid and Shazi was pretty good. Shahrzad’s perspective of Khalid slowly shifts from hate to dislike to something like love. Again, I felt a bit dispassionate towards Shazi, so I wasn’t rooting for her happiness, and was instead rooting for Khalid’s. I loved seeing Khalid open up as a character even if it was to Shazi, and the words Renée Ahdieh wrote for his character were truly beautiful. What made them even more moving was how he was such a broken person, but somehow found these beautiful words within himself to share with someone he cared about.
The building the Shazi’s and Khalid’s relationship through scenes where such words were either spoken or written rang more true than a lot of other romances in books I’ve read, and even though I felt nothing towards Shazi, I shipped this couple because their relationship made Khalid happy.
There are a couple of other characters in this book that have some bearing on the story behind “The Wrath and the Dawn” like Tariq, Rehim, and Despina, but the only side character that actually interested me was Jalal.
Jalal was the cousin of Khalid, and I really liked him. He was a charmer and weaver of beautiful words, and he was the character in this book who made me smile the most. I loved the scenes he took part in and I really liked how he challenged Khalid as a person, called him out on his crap, and supported the relationship that Shazi and Khalid had. Jalal believed in them even when those two characters had doubts or distrusted their relationship. I wish that I had gotten more time getting to know this supporting character because he felt like one of the more dynamic characters in “The Wrath and the Dawn” besides Khalid, and I hope that book two will have a lot more of Jalal.
Everything about this book was really well-developed and creatively plotted, and although I had my favorite characters, I enjoyed everything about “The Wrath and the Dawn.” I was okay with Shazi and I never felt like she detracted from my enjoyment of this story despite my lackluster feelings towards her. I am hoping that I will enjoy her more in book two, but even if she doesn’t grow on me I know that I will love it! Khalid was amazingly dynamic and I loved him so much as well as Jalal, but what really impressed me while reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” was Renée’s quality of writing and her style. Renée Ahdieh wielded the sword of the written word so elegantly, and I found her storytelling to be truly beautiful. I loved how she wrote such vivid and rich scenes from the feel of the breeze on her characters skin, to the warmth of the sun seeping from the marble tiles at their feet. Her storytelling completely drew me into her world, and I wish that this book had been more lengthy so that I could have stayed in its grasp for longer. Renée Ahdieh’s writing was my favorite part of this book, but Khalid was a very close second!
Oh, gosh, and the ending of “The Wrath and the Dawn” made me love it all the more. So much had been revealed in the last sixty pages and so much had happened in the last couple of chapters that my emotions had been all over the place already, and then to have it end like THAT. It involved a heart breaking and soul shattering letter that left me near tears, and I loved that Renée ended it that way. It hurt, but it was brilliant.
Overall, I really loved “The Wrath and the Dawn.” It was so wonderful being swept away into a land unknown to me, and I loved discovering the truth behind the mystery alongside Renée Ahdieh’s characters. “The Wrath and the Dawn” was elegant and entrancing, and I thought that it was a wonderful retelling of the “A Thousand and One Nights.” I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an adventure and for their heart to be broken. P.S. I NEED “The Rose and the Dagger” to be released right now!!!