Fun story, years and years ago I was in a school production of ‘Arabian Nights’ and all I can remember about it was sewing sequins onto a pair of Hareem pants. I’m fairly sure I had a part with lines, but all I can recall is sequins. Just goes to show shiny things are best. But enough about my trousers, let’s talk about The Wrath and the 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?
So yes, in a sea of retellings Renée Ahdieh decided to write a retelling of the story of Shahrzad. I am in no way complaining. This has always been one of my favourite stories because, when you’re a booklover you can’t help but love a story that contains stories can you?
Let’s start with the obvious, you can in no way deny from that description that these are heavily romance based. Much like Cora Carmack’s Roar, if you know that from the start and you understand what you’re getting yourself in for, it doesn’t bother you that much. And if you loathe a romance with all of your being then you know not to read it, so everybody wins.
Yes it is an old story, turning the bad boy villain good again with the power of love and storytelling. I’m not going to deny that particular cliché and the many problems with forgiving someone who has done terrible things in a book. However, I do think this is a slightly different situation because of reasons that it would be a spoiler to explain (sigh). All in all, I thought that the relationship between Shahrzad and the murdering sultan would truly bother me but in the end it actually makes a lot of sense. It isn’t lazy romance writing, it’s real character development.
Having now read this book I actually think I understand Flame in the Mist a little better. It seems Renée Ahdieh’s way of building a fantasy world is to allow the presence of magic only when it is absolutely necessary to the plot and not just interspersed throughout. While that was somewhat disappointing in Flame in the Mist the balance feels about right in this story. I think the cost of magic and it’s repercussions are also better thought out than in her later novel.
Essentially, this is a great addition to any YA reader’s shelf so long as you can get on board with the ideas that Ahdieh is exploring. If, from the outset, you don’t want to read a romance-y novel with a sharp tongued female protagonist then obviously you’re not going to have a good time. But if this is the kind of book that just transports you to another world, as it did me, then I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy both this and the sequel The Rose and the Dagger which I will review shortly (click follow if you don’t want to miss it!)
My rating:5/5 stars
I bought this book with my own money from a local bookshop, all opinions are my own.
What say you? Is this the kind of book that warms your heart or are you not here for the romance? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!
Can’t wait 🙂