Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 12, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
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five-stars

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.

Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) loaned me her ARC of The Wrath and the Dawn during our vacation together. Though I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for anything particularly heavy and was having trouble sticking with anything, I picked it up since she’d been nice enough to carry it along with her. At first, I was unconvinced, but that lasted a grand total of about 25 pages. Normally I swap between books, but I read The Wrath and the Dawn in one long binge, with a break for sleep, and I regret not a single thing. I’m so thrilled to have finally found a fantasy in a diverse setting with vibrant characters, wonderful world building, and glorious shipping.

For the first couple of chapters, I wasn’t really sure what was happening in The Wrath and the Dawn. The first chapter especially stymied me. However, once Shahrzad’s marriage to Kalidh takes place, I almost literally could not put this book down. The story’s told, as a Sheherezade story must be, with a lot of stories within the story. They come not just from Shahrzad but from others as well, and every single story reflects on the plot and informs what is to come. The Wrath and the Dawn is woven from a tapestry of story; it’s magical and utterly realistic all at once.

gif jasmine smile aladdin

The Wrath and the Dawn feels predominantly historical, though I’m greatly excited about the magic elements just coming to the fore at the end of the novel. Ahdieh balances the novel between historical and fantastic fairy tale in a very believable way. There’s something about Ahdieh’s descriptions that really bring everything to life for me. Every time she described food, for example, my stomach would start grumbling. Even the foods I generally avoid sounded so good, and, when I get home, I’d like to go in search of Middle Eastern food. The atmosphere is luscious, sumptuous, and with an air of danger.

The characters in The Wrath and the Dawn are phenomenal. Shahrzad, of course, will always be my number one love. As Howard Keel sang in the somewhat troubling classic “Bless Yore Beautiful Hide,” she’s “sassy as can be.” Basically, this girl lives balls to the wall. Though she’s in danger of being murdered by the Caliph at any time, she doesn’t coddle or cajole; she manipulates, challenges, and intrigues. There’s not a weak bone in her body; Shahrzad is made of fight. She’s strong of both mind and skilled of body, thanks to her training with a bow and arrow. This is how I like my historical heroines, whether or not it’s necessarily realistic.

gif hot jasmine aladdin

It’s not just Shahrzad, feisty and intelligent, who I love, however. Khalid’s a monster, one who wins your heart. Every time he bared some of his feelings to Shahrzad, my heart grew a size, I swear. The arcs in this book people, my god. There’s little I like more than stories about characters have committed irredeemable acts and feel they could never deserve love who nonetheless try and grow and love their hardest. It’s so heartbreaking, both for the girls he had killed and for him; he will never throw off the guilt of what he’s done, which is why it’s possible to in some measure forgive him for it. This is not a world without consequences.

Shahrzad marries Kalidh intending to murder him, to obtain vengeance for her best friend who he married and then murdered. That’s not an easy ship to make work, but holy hell I ship it so fucking hard. The reason this messy ship works is that Khalid and Shahrzad, even at the beginning when they hate one another, are always honest. They omit or slant the truth sometimes, but they do not lie. There’s a foundation there for real trust, the most important ingredient in love. Plus, they sass and snark and banter endlessly. There’s a similarity of wit and humor and intelligence that makes everything work so beautifully, except for, you know, all the plot things complicating this, like the fact that Shahrzad had sworn to kill him.

gif jasmine in disguise aladdin

The rest of the supporting cast has my heart as well. Her hand maiden, Despina, brought over from Greece a slave, is also wonderfully sassy and irreverent. I friendship and ever so slightly ship these two really hard. Not only that, but they do have to struggle through some serious trust issues. The only thing I don’t like about her plot line is that View Spoiler » Then there’s Jalal, Kalidh’s cousin and a Captain in the armed forces. Once again, major sass. Pretty much everybody is clever and outspoken. Banter non-freaking-stop. That is so one hundred percent my dream. MORE LIKE THIS, PLEASE.

The low point of the novel, if there is one, which hardly, is Tariq. His sections weren’t boring and didn’t really slow me down, but I do not love him. He’s Shahrzad’s childhood love, and he needs to learn how to hakuna matata. He’s still very realistically drawn, but I definitely hiss at him and his silver eyes from time to time. Not to mention Kalidh’s tiger eyes (orange gold) or Shahrzad’s blue-greenish eyes. Um okay. Eyes will always be my nemeses in YA fiction it seems.

gif jasmine judging aladdin

I want nothing more than to stop writing this review and dive straight back into this world, but, unfortunately, I’ve got a long wait for The Rose and the Dagger. Forces are only just marshaling for what is sure to be an intense and painful (in the best way) series.

Favorite Quote:

“A shared history does not entitle you to a future, my friend.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif jasmine sassy tiger

7 responses to “Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh”

  1. I’m so so happy to see another 5 stars review for this one, and reading your review makes me look forward to reading this one even moooore!! A sassy and strong heroine is one thing I LOOOVE in my books and I’m really happy to hear this one has it in spades!

    I cannot wait for my preorder to arriveeee!!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell!!My Profile

  2. Brigid says:

    GODDDDDDD. I love heroines who manipulate. I truly do. I cannot wait for the flying carpet. I must fill the aladdin cup of need please.

  3. I love stories set in the Middle East (or anywhere non-US, actually), and I was reading about this author the other day. My interest was piqued! Maybe I’ll check it out if my library gets it.

    I’m different than you about heroines. Yeah, there are some times that I like a swashbuckling gal who fears no evil, but most of the time I want someone way more believable and who has to work together with other people to overcome problems.
    Alisa @ Papercuttts recently posted…A Letter to My YA SelfMy Profile

  4. Holly J says:

    First of all, I LOVE your review! Second of all, your gif usage is PERF. Thirdly, can we just have the damn sequel already? Please and thank you.

    I loved this book so much! I’m not even sure I can pinpoint on the why, except that when I read it, I was completely transported. Shazi was a kick-butt heroine and her manipulation skills? This girl is everything! And oh my god, I shipped her and Khalid so hard, like I don’t know how the author made their relationship so believable, but TARIQ WHO? Also, I agree with you about Tariq’s character. I don’t necessarily hate him, but I definitely feel like he was underdeveloped. (I could just not like him because of my ship, but I’d like to think I’m better than that).

    This book is such a gem. Wonderful review! 🙂
    Holly J recently posted…Underrated NA RecommendationsMy Profile

  5. […] Christina @ Reader of Fictions used Princess Jasmine GIFs in her five star review, and I loved it! […]

  6. Alexina says:

    Love this books so much! So funny!
    Alexina recently posted…10 Worn-Out Cliches in YAMy Profile

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