Review: The Wrath & the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and The Dawn
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and The Dawn #1
My rating: {★★★★

YA Fantasy Retelling
Published May 12th 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Source: Borrowed

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.

When I finished reading this one I rated with my heart - 5 glowing stars. My mind wanted 4 stars, but the heart won out, because this was the sort of book I found difficult to put down; it made me laugh and it made me cry; I was completely invested in these characters and I just adored the story.

The setting was rich and sumptuous and vividly described - the descriptions of the clothes and their fabrics, the descriptions of the mouth watering foods - they all built and built upon this profuse and diverse world.

I loved the way that Ahdieh managed to weave her own magic into 1001 Nights. It's a really fantastic re-imagining of this tale and it's bursting with culture, fantasy and magic.

The characters are just so well developed. I was immediately drawn to Shahrzad's fierceness, her razor sharp mind and her determination. I loved her hatred of Khalid evolving into something so much more and her very life evolving into so much more. A tale of vengeance quickly became the centre of my universe in the pages of this book.

Alas, the truth was not as enlightening as she had hoped.
Instead, it was desolate and ugly and cloaked in even more cruelty than she could have imagined.
Her best friend had been murdered for the sake of revenge—a disgusting, twisted revenge inflicted by a crazed man who had lost his child to an unfortunate turn of events. And he, in turn, had chosen to punish others for his pain.
He had punished Khalid for it.
And Khalid had punished the people of Rey.
Shahrzad took a deep breath.
Everything had spiraled down an endless black well because of one man’s torment.
She studied her hands against the cool stone railing.
That same desire for revenge had brought her to this palace. Had driven her to hate the boy-king she’d blamed for such suffering.
And now here she was, standing on an abyss.

I couldn't imagine how Ahdieh would take this character and make him likeable; this boy-king who takes a new wife every night only to have her executed at sunrise. How could I learn to like a monster like that? What could be the story behind this monster? Well, I was on Khalid's side almost as soon as I read the prologue and as the book drew me further and further in, I didn't just LIKE this monster, I was rooting for him, I was shipping the romance and I CARED about him.

Not only are the main characters well fleshed out and multi-dimensional, I was also completely invested and intrigued with a lot of the secondary characters as well, Despina in particular - strong female characters are always a huge plus for me.

“Are you a good spy?”
“The best.”
“A good spy would hide her identity.”
“The best spies don’t have to.”
Shahrzad smiled at this, in spite of herself. “You’re arrogant.”
“As are you, my lady Shahrzad. But I do not see this as a shortcoming. For without a measure of arrogance, how can one attempt the impossible?”

The romance was really well done - I thought it was slow building and authentic and I couldn't help but get behind it with all my heart and not to mention the hate-to-love trope that I can't seem to get enough of!

There were a few small things that made my mind want to rate this one a 4 star read but nothing that really affected my enjoyment of the book. I felt that Shazi wasted a couple of opportunities for her revenge (thank goodness!) and there were a few moments I thought sounded quite 'debut', but overall this was a fantastic read for me. I was in tears before I was even 25% in - I was feeling ALL THE FEELS!

The ending was a tough one - thank goodness book 2 was readily available for me to buy IMMEDIATELY. Had I read this when it was first released that ending just MIGHT have been enough to demote my rating because it was definitely cliffhanger-y and cruel! Thankfully in this case I got to read the second book in this duology straight away and if you haven't started this series yet - PLEASE DO!

One hundred lives for the one you took. One life to one dawn.

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)→