YA Weekend: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Book 1 of The Wrath and the Dawn
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 12, 2015)
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I admit The Wrath and the Dawn wasn’t initially a book I was drawn to, but as time went by, the concept started to grow on me. I still would have preferred a stronger fantasy component, but its hook – the fact that its story is inspired by A Thousand and One Nights – became more intriguing the longer I thought about it.
The book introduces us to sixteen-year-old Shahrzad, getting ready for her marriage to Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. It’s a sad affair for her family, who all believe it will be the last time any of them will see Shazi alive. Everyone says that young Khalid is a monster, for what kind of man would take a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise the next day? Shazi, however, had volunteered herself for this, and she has a plan (arguable, but more about that later). Not long ago, her own best friend was taken and killed by the Caliph. Now Shazi is determined to find out why Shiva and all those other young girls had to die, and she won’t stop until she gets her revenge.
Things are not as they seem, though. Shazi may have escaped death for a day by captivating Khalid with a story, cleverly withholding the ending by the time dawn arrives, forcing the Caliph to put off her execution in order to find out what happens. The more time she spends with the boy king, however, the more she realizes he is not the monster everyone made him out to be. Still, he did kill all those women, and the reason for that is a closely guarded secret that no seems to know or want to talk about. While seeking answers, Shazi finds herself slowly drawn to Khalid and even begins to fall for him. But when her first love Tariq learns of her marriage to the Caliph and comes riding to her rescue, Shazi will have to make a choice.
I found this book to be one part romance, and one part A Big Question. The former is relatively straight forward; Shazi marries Khalid, realizes that he’s actually not that bad, the two fall in love. It happens very quickly, almost too quickly for my tastes. Here’s another Young Adult novel, where in its eagerness to get its two lovers together, we lose out on a lot of the emotional layers that make the relationship convincing. And how was Shazi supposed to take revenge on the Caliph after marrying him anyway? She didn’t even really try. Her half-baked plan didn’t seem to go much farther beyond enticing him with stories (and I do wish she had been able to tell more of them), so all I can see is the instalove being a decision of convenience. Thing is though, I could easily look past this in favor of what I really felt was the most interesting aspect of the whole book.
Enter the big question: Why did Khalid kill Shazi’s best friend Shiva and all those other wives of his? That’s the mystery that really caught my interest and kept me reading, and it was treated in the exact opposite way as the romance, an intricate puzzle that slowly unravels. For that I was very happy, and I liked how the author took the time to make the answers worth it.
I was also most impressed with Shazi’s character above any of the others. I liked that she had such class and dignity, but also a strong personality that wouldn’t stop her from teaching a lesson to someone who shows her disrespect. She’s also truly fearless, as evidenced by the calm and quiet way she decided to volunteer to marry the Caliph knowing very well it could mean her death, and also by a scene where she strikes out at an attacker even when she very literally had a blade to her throat.
There was really one factor about the writing that made me stumble. Five words: Attack of the purple prose.
“But the thought that she might lie to him – that those eyes, with their unpredictable onslaught of colors, flashing blue one instant and green the next, only to paint his world gold with the bright sound of her laughter…”
Occasionally there will be a glaring overkill of these flowery phrases or paragraphs. I think it’s pretty common with relatively new authors who are also extremely talented writers though, who maybe just need to know when to dial it back a little.
Still, on the whole I do think Renée Ahdieh writes beautifully and has a bright writing career ahead of her. While it may not be perfect, The Wrath and the Dawn impressed me and so I’m on board to see what happens next.
lovely review! i’m reading it soon and hopefully i’ll enjoy it 🙂
I hope you will too 🙂
I guess the author did not chose to tell the story as it was, that she got preggers, gave birth and he never even noticed
I was not familiar with that aspect of the original tale, wow. *runs to look it up*
OOoh nice review! Just got this this week and cannot wait to read it! Glad you enjoyed it!
I saw it in your book haul! I hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂
I reading Uprooted right now and it seems to have the same “guy kidnaps girl for mysterious reasons” storyline to it, which normally I don’t really enjoy, but I am CERTAINLY enjoying Uprooted! Sounds like this could be another good one:-D
Haha, coincidentally my review for Uprooted just went up, LOL. Must be a week for fairy tale retellings.
I heard about this one but I wasn’t that interesting, I think I did a mistake it sounds really good. Shazi looks like a wonderful character to follow and to discover! I’m curious! great review!
I felt the exact same way. But when the opportunity to read this one landed in my lap, I couldn’t resist the curiosity. Glad I gave it a shot!
Hmmm, I really want to read this. Your review is more balanced than the love-or-hate stuff I’ve been seeing; gives me hope!
I’m glad to hear that! I think readers can get very passionate about their YA, especially when the book is one with a lot of hype surrounding it, LOL. I wasn’t that hyped about the book at all when I went in, maybe that helped me see it in a more objective way.
Great review, Mogsy. Balanced and fair, like thebrightspark mentioned.
Insta-love-ish? Ehhhhh… I like the sounds of the slowly unraveling mystery, though. I guess I’ll see what I think of it when I get around to reading it.
Insta-love is almost unavoidable these days, sigh. I didn’t fault the book too much because of that, since it was just moving with the herd. Thank goodness there was that aura of mystery, I think that alone really sold this one for me.
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Oh YAY, I’m really happy that you managed to enjoy this one too Mogsy^^ I remember back when the blurb for this one started making its rounds, I was worried about the seeming insta-love here as well. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t find it to be so when I read the book. Or, it just didn’t really bother me in this case. I felt like Shazi and Khalid tried to resist each other quite a bit before falling under each other’s spell. Like you though, what really got me was the mystery, the wonderfully atmospheric setting and the hints of magic to come in the sequel. Fantastic review! 😀
I remember your excellent review! I agree, even though I personally felt there was insta-love, I could still understand the choice – we really had to get their relationship established before all the other good stuff could happen. And I hope too that the next book will have more magic! That would be awesome 🙂
I’m glad you decided to read it and enjoyed it so much. When it came time to read it I just wasn’t in the mood at all. The mystery…I must know why…tell me!