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 is a period romance set in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Khorasan. It tells the story of Shahrzad, who's best friend has been murdered at the hands of their young Caliph, Khalid, who is the cause of countless deaths of young women. Shahrzhad volunteers to become his bride in order to exact revenge on him, but never factors in the possibility that she could be swayed by this enigmatic King who's story runs deeper than she could ever imagine.
This novel was the first that I've devoured in a few months. I was drawn in first by the beauty that is the dust jacket, and incredibly detailed art work adorning the inside cover. Once I read the synopsis, however, I was drawn in to this period romance set within the Ancient Middle East. There aren't very many period pieces showcased in Young Adult literature, and especially none as diverse as this, choosing to showcase the lives of others outside of the Western World. I couldn't have been more pleased with it, friends!
When I was little, I remember reading novels like Dinotopia or Bridge to Terebithia that seemed to have this overwhelming sense of opening a completely new world and going on a grand adventure, and Renèe Ahdieh captured this feeling within the first few words so gorgeously. Everytime I picked it up, I had this glorious sense of entering a beautiful world full of vibrant magic and intrigue. Ahdieh's writing is so passionate, steeped with vivid imagery, and beautiful cadences. Rife with poetry and romance. Shahrzhad is a wonderful character, with such courage volunteer for a role that most surely would cost her life. But once she meets Khalid, they have such an electric chemistry that just rattled my heart!
Khalid is a great enigma that is both unsettling at first and then heartbreaking once it all comes to a head. I loved that Ahdieh created such a raw back story for Khalid that helps you to sympathize, not necessarily with the violent acts surrounding him, but with what would drive someone to such brutality. I also loved that Shahrzhad is not a simpering lovesick protagonist, swooning over Khalid with every step. She questions everything, tests everything, and even as she realizes that she's slipped over the edge, she never ceases her mission to discover the motivations for Khalid's acts.
Tariq, Shahrzhad's childhood sweetheart, is definitely a warrior in his own right, mobilizing forces to rescue her from the palace that has brought so much pain to Khorasan. It's definitely hard to watch as Shahrzhad's feelings turn towards Khalid as Tariq observes from afar, and I'm curious to see how his journey changes throughout the course of this series.
Despina and Jalal were delightful supporting characters. Despina's spunk and humor meets her perfect match with Shahrzhad and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow. I adored their playful banter! It was also great to see Despina's vulnerable journey come to a head as the novel progressed. Jalal, the Caliph's cousin and right hand, is charismatic and flirtatious...and really hard not to fall for as well! They both balanced the heavy, somewhat gothic tones of the book with great humor and friendship.
Renèe Ahdieh also infuses her novel with the importance storytelling, and the power it holds over us, as Shahrzhad expertly uses it to sway the King's attentions as she formulates her plan. There's nothing better to me than a story that celebrates storytelling and just inspires you to dig even deeper. Wrath is inspired by a story called One Thousand and One Nights, and I would love to discover more about this.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a wonderful story with the strength of a classic adventure: romantic, intriguing, as well as heartbreaking. Shahrzhad and Khalid's is a story not to miss! It's a novel I'll be rereading, and sinking into every delicious morsel of it that Renèe Ahdieh will gift to us.