One Life to One Dawn.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 lurk 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?Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.
I’m so glad the hype made me read this one! Especially when Lyra told me she loved it and I trust her fantasy recs because we’re both not much of fantasy readers. It’s actually pretty weird for me to categorize this a fantasy book because, sure, it has some magical elements (although I expect more magic will happen in the next book) but it was SO grounded in reality and history that it didn’t feel like something imagined. It felt so real and just *applause applause*
My initial review of this book on Goodreads is:
BRB FOR MY REVIEW, STILL SOAKING IN THE FEELS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Because that’s what happened. I WAS SO AWASHED WITH FEELS THAT I COULDN’T FUNCTION. WHAT IS AIR? WHERE IS THE NEXT BOOK? And while I’ve had some time to compose myself, no time is enough to make me coherent about this book but I’ll try.
First, the setting. The Wrath and the Dawn is set in Persia and it gave it justice. Justice, whatever, IT WAS GLORIOUS. It is well-researched, from the desert setting, the caliphate form of government, the architecture, the food, everything was so on point and perfect. Maybe that’s why I never approached TWATD as if it’s fantasy because it didn’t read to me like one. It was a magnificent historical fiction by all accounts, just with that bit of magic. I particularly appreciated how Renée Ahdieh didn’t try to translate culturally relevant words and phrases. There were not a lot of non-English terms but then the context completely gives you an idea what it is. Whether it’s an insult or a musical instrument resembling a flute, you’ll get it. I LOVE IT.
Of course, with that mentioned, our ensemble of cast is a diverse one. HUZZAH! No white-washing in here, everyone’s Western Asians, except for one Greek slave. But then, let’s just get to these wonderful characters. GUYS, THEY ARE WONDERFUL. Sure, they might be a bit stereotypical — spunky and big-mouthed heroine Shahrzad, the king who everyone sees as a monster but is actually SO FAR FROM THAT Khalid, the snarky handmaiden Despina, the king’s cousin who’s so jolly Jalal, the first love Tariq, the first love’s sidekick Rahim — they’re characters you’ve met a lot of times before. But what makes these set of characters fantastic is how fabulous Renée Ahdieh wrote them. You just can’t help but love them. I AM SERIOUS. I love how much banter goes on between Shahrzad and Despina, how equally arrogantly charming and calculating Jalal is and how much he cares for Khalid who never opens up to anyone, HOW KHALID IS PERFECT (not really because he did order to kill and he’s violent and angry and SUPER ALOOF (HE’S LIKE FORT KNOX WITH HIS THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, SECRETS, EVERYTHING) but HE’S POETIC, GENTLEMANLY, OLD-FASHIONED and so completely in love with Shahrzad), how I profess allegiance to Shahrzad because she is queen and a glorious kickass heroine. THESE CHARACTERS FELT SO REAL AND THAT’S WHY THEY GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS.
Now, to said feels. GUYS. Once again, concerned mom checked up on me because I was legitimately squealing. And laughing. And keening. KEENING. She went to my room and asked me if I was crying or laughing because she couldn’t tell. I told her I was doing both. ALL THEM FEELS. I cried at some point in the book then squealed and keened to mighty heavens whenever Khalid does his thing of being SO SWEET AND !!!!!!!!!!!!! ACK I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S THE WORD FOR THAT. OF BEING PERFECT. Gah, THE ENDING. THE PROLOGUE TO THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS TORTURE IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY.
The Wrath and the Dawn is said to be a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights and I would like to warn you about this if you expect Shahrzad to have all these stories for Khalid. It is merely inspired by it and while Shazi tells Khalid some stories, it is not the focus of the story. The story takes a life of its own and it is fanfreakintastic. I just can’t ask for more!
Lastly, THE WRITING! Oh heavens, the book is told in multiple third-person POVs, which usually I don’t care for, but I dig it SO SO MUCH. We mostly get the perspectives of Shahrzad and Khalid but sometimes we get Tariq’s (meh, I seriously skipped his parts the first time I read this) and even Jahandar, Shazi’s father.
Yes, did I mention that I read this twice in a row? My first read was just Shazi and Khalid’s parts because SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP then the next one was a full read. I know, I’m weird. Shut up.
Once again, the writing. It was beautiful, descriptive (but not overly so), and it brought the events to life. WHAT IS AIR?
I highly recommend The Wrath and the Dawn to EVERYONE. Yes, no exceptions. It is a beautiful piece of YA fantasy that I devoured and YOU WILL TOO. It’s not only beautiful but it’s engaging and ALL THE FEELS and I NEED THE NEXT BOOK NOW. (It’s only a duology too so YAY!)
See, I revert back to incoherency.
I live in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with my husband Victor and our dog Mushu. My YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, is available wherever books are sold. In my spare time, I like to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of my characters.
I’m also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.