Author: Renee Ahdieh
Provided Synopsis: 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 lurks 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?
Review: Because of my deep obsession with the story of Shahrzad, The Wrath and the Dawn was among one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I am so glad to be able to report that it delivered everything that I wanted.
The story begins as expected: Shahrzad volunteers to marry the Caliph of Khorasan with the knowledge that she will be executed at the dawn like all the brides who had gone before her. In order to exact revenge for the death of her best friend, she devises a plan to stay alive through the dawn so she might observe the king and his weaknesses. Every night Shahrzad tells Khalid a story, never quite finishing it so that he will have to keep her alive to hear more.
As in the original tale, the two begin to fall in love with each other as they spend more and more time together. And I thought the romance between Shazi and Khalid was handled so incredibly well in this retelling. She begins with so much loathing in her heart; he is wary of what her true intentions are, since she volunteered for what should have been a death sentence. The dialogue between them felt incredibly natural at all times, as did the interactions they have together. When feelings shift to deeper realms I could feel the love between them, and for that I have so much appreciation for the author for getting this romance so right. This romance was my joonam – my everything.
Beyond the romance there are other elements weaved into the story, the most promising being the curse and the impending threat of war. Both of these elements were set-up within the final pages of the book as I assume they shall come to a head in The Rose and the Dagger. Magic is the other element in this book, although this one I found to be the weakest in comparison to the rest. The source of magic, its genetic transferring, and the true role it has played and will continue to play in the story have never been sufficiently explained; it also offers another villainous obstacle which I am not even sure is needed with so much else going on.
Still, I’d recommend this story to everyone in love with the tale of Shahrzad, in the search of a book set in a world described with beautiful skill, or on the hunt for a romance that has defied the ages. I want book two right now!