“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh
5 out of 5 stars.
After her best friend was murdered by the King of Khorasan, Shahrzad is determined to make the heartless monster pay for the light that he extinguished on that terrible dawn when he killed Shiva. Shahrzad cannot bear another day of her best friend not getting the justice she deserves, and Shahrzad al-Khouzryan has figured out just 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 after surviving several dawns by weaving tales of magic and adventure for her husband, Shahrzad discovers something that shouldn’t exist, something that should be impossible: Khalid, the King of Khorasan, has a heart. The more time Shahrzad spends with Khalid, the more she begins to realize that he is not the cold monster from her nightmares, the monster that stole her friend from her. And soon her traitorous heart begins to falter in its plans, and Shahrzad wonders if there is more to this boy than the monster that she had imagined?
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 the murders of Khorasan’s daughters, and understand the reasons why Khalid has spared 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 behind the lies within the palace before her time runs out and the dawn catches up with 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 me hooked 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 all, and I found that to be very impressive. I love reading a book and feeling like I’m being transported to another time or a different land as I turn each page, and that’s exactly what Renée did for me with her first young adult novel. The writing of “The Wrath and the Dawn” was spectacular, even decadent at times, and I was drowning in its beauty and the emotion if drew from me at the drop of a dime. But Renée’s story telling ability did not stop at just gloriously vivid descriptions, because her characters were also wonderfully dynamic.
It took me a second time of reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” in order to write this review, and the reason for that was Shahrzad. I was fine with Shazi’s character the first time I read this book, but I did not connect with her because of her initially petulant nature, and instead found myself gravitating towards Khalid and the secondary characters. Shazi was out for revenge from page one, which was completely understandably considering what had happened to her best friend, Shiva, at the hands of Khalid. 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. After having reread “The Wrath and the Dawn,” though, I felt Shazi’s character start to grow on me bit by bit as I got to know her better, and now I can appreciate her as a protagonist, even if she is not my absolute favorite heroine. All this being said, my initially unsure feelings toward Shazi never made me waver in my love for Renée Ahdieh’s writing style and her wonderfully designed world, and I especially loved her hero, Khalid.
I found Khalid to be an extremely interesting and dynamic male character. Khalid had done a lot of bad things before “The Wrath and the Dawn” ever began, but he was far from the monster that I had expected. He had a lot of secrets that didn’t get revealed until the last fifty pages of this book, but piece-by-piece the puzzle of who he was and why he had committed those terrible crimes began to make sense. What he did was wrong, but his moral dilemma completely 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 he felt like such a rich, dynamic character to me.
Khalid proved to be less imperious than Shahrzad at times, despite how he was raised, and that made me like him even more. I also loved the moments when I could see that he understood that he was just a boy with far to many burdens to bear, and that his status as King of Khorasan did not make him untouchable or better than anyone else. Khalid may not have been arrogant, but he was hot-tempered and totally imperfect, yet somehow his weaknesses and flaws only made me love him all the more, and my heart ached for the boy who had had to grow up too fast. Khalid’s position due to his curse caused me to have compassion for him, and I found that it was Khalid who ended up moving me the most emotionally out of all of Renée’s characters in “The Wrath and the Dawn.”
I really have to commend Renée Ahdieh on how she commandeered 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 incredible story around him that I couldn’t help but ignore reason and fall in love with him. Khalid was a truly misunderstood character because of the secrets that he was forced to keep and the things that he had done, and I liked that he was not wicked or manipulative like the generic bad boys authors tend to write. Renée Ahdieh caused me to see the humanity existing within him, to see the heart that he possessed, and to understand the boy who had been turned into something seemingly cruel and cold without his consent. Khalid was a smart, cunning, and unassuming figure who was quiet and always watchful, and I loved how present he felt in scenes, even when he wasn’t speaking. Khalid was tangible and I wanted to fully understand him, to discover who he actually was, and Renée Ahdieh accomplished all that 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 SO good. Shahrzad’s perspective of Khalid slowly shifts from hate to dislike to love over time, and I was entrance by their blossoming relationship. Shazi may not have been my favorite heroine, but she made Khalid happy and brought out the beautiful, passionate, and kind side of him that he had kept buried for so long. I loved seeing Khalid open up as a character over time, and the words that Renée Ahdieh wrote for his character were truly beautiful. What made them even more moving was how he was such a broken person, yet he somehow found these beautiful words within himself to share with someone he cared about.
The building of Shazi’s and Khalid’s relationship through these scenes where such gorgeous words were either spoken or written rang more true than a lot of other romances in books that I’ve read, and I SHIPPED this couple so hard. I just loved how happy Khalid was when she was by his side, despite their difficulties along the way, and it was beautiful watching them slowly grow to love and respect one another over time.
There are a couple of other characters in this book who all took part in the story behind “The Wrath and the Dawn,” like Tariq, Rehim, and Despina, but my favorite secondary character ended up being Jalal.
Jalal was the cousin of Khalid, and I really liked him. He was a charmer and weaver of charming words, and he was the character in this book who made me smile the most; Khalid made my heart sing and caused me to swoon, but it was Jalal who almost got a few laughs from me. I loved the scenes he took part in, and I really liked how he challenged Khalid as a person, calling him out on his crap, and how he supported the relationship that Shazi and Khalid had. Jalal believed in them, even when those two characters had doubts or distrusted their own relationship. I wish that I had gotten more time getting to know this supporting character, and I hope that book two will have a lot more of Jalal in it.
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 ended up being okay with Shazi, and I never felt like she detracted from my enjoyment of this story, despite my initial feelings for her. Khalid was amazingly dynamic, and I loved him so much, but what really impressed me while reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” was Renée’s quality of writing and her unique 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 bigger by fifty to a hundred pages so that I could have stayed in its grasp for longer. Renée Ahdieh’s writing was stunning and glorious, and I know that this is the kind of book that I will be picking up to reread many times in the near future in order to experience its writing and characters again!
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 that my emotions were all over the place already, and then to have it end like THAT!
Renée’s ending involved a heartbreaking and soul shattering letter that left me in agony and near tears, and I loved that she ended it that way. It hurt beyond words, but it was a brilliant ending.
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 does not mind it if their heart gets broken.
P.S. I NEED “The Rose and the Dagger” to be released right now!!!