TITLE: The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn #1)
AUTHOR: Renee Ahdieh
GENRE: YA, FANTASY ROMANCE
PUBLISHED: May 12, 2015
This review includes spoilers!!!
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.
Review: The Wrath & The Dawn is Renee Ahdieh’s debut (fantasy) novel, a wonderful tale based on the world famous classic, Arabian Nights. The story is set is a fictional Arabic nation named Khoursan and is mostly comprised of desert lands.
The Plot: The Caliph of Khoursan, the story’s antagonist, takes a new bride every night only to have her executed at dawn. The latest victim, Shiva, is the best friend to the protagonist, Shahrzad. Shahrzad Volunteers to be the Caliphs next wife vowing to avenge Shiva and all the other Daughters of Khoursan senselessly killed by the Boy King Murderer. She vows to find a way to end the Caliph’s life before he kills her.
Shahrzad is a beautiful courageous girl of 16 summers, still mourning the death of her best friend Shahrzad find the strength to take on the tremendously impossible task of stopping the murders and getting vengeance for Shiva.
“This boy-king, this murderer . . . she would not permit him to destroy another family. To rob another girl of her best friend—of a lifetime filled with memories that had been and never would be.”
“I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes. And I will kill you. With my own hands.”
Khalid is The Caliph of Khoursan, a lonely boy-king hated by his people and understood by few. Before he married Shahrzad he thought he knew what he was doing, thought he knew what was important in his life, circumstances had left him with few choices. One hundred lives or the destruction of Khoursan. A monster, or a failure to his people, not really much of a choice. The Khoursan people hate their King, having no idea the sacrifice he makes for them losing a bit of his soul & sanity with each death, being eaten from within by guilt.
“Before exiting, he turned. “How long should a man pay for his mistakes, sayyidi?” Khalid did not hesitate. “Until all debts are forgiven.”
“These were letters of apology to the families of the girls murdered at dawn by a callous hand and a silk cord. Each was dated. Each acknowledged Khalid’s sole responsibility. None offered any justification for the death. No excuse. He merely apologized. In a manner so open and full of feeling that it left her throat dry and her chest aching. It was clear they were written with no intention of being delivered. Khalid’s words were far too personal and introspective to indicate he ever meant for any eyes to see them apart from his own. But his unabashed self-loathing cut into Shahrzad with the effectiveness of a newly honed knife. He wrote of staring into frightened faces and tearful eyes, with the abject knowledge he was robbing families of their joy. Stealing their hearts’ blood from them, as though he had the right. As if anyone had the right.”
When Khalid meets Shahrzad he knows she is up to something, and he is determined to figure out what. He is also determined to do what he must and kill her to save his people. But with each meeting, each conversation draws him closer, he envies her and he knows if he doesn’t kill her soon he won’t be able to kill her at all.
“Then why did you volunteer? Why are you willing to throw away your life at seventeen?”
“I told you. Do not think you will be the one to break the cycle.”
“No! A guard reached for her arm. When his hand closed around her wrist, Shahrzad saw the caliph’s features tighten. She yanked her arm from the guard’s grasp, as though it were a flame held too near her flesh. “Don’t touch me!” she yelled. When another guard seized her shoulder, she slapped his hand out of the way. “Are you deaf? How dare you touch me? Do you know who I am?” A note of panic entered her voice. Not knowing what else to do, she locked upon her enemy. The tiger-eyes were . . . torn. Wary. And then? Calm.
“Khalid removed the dark rida’ from his shoulders and placed it in his lap. He knew it was likely Shahrzad had sent her family away or that they had fled voluntarily, leaving behind a store of unanswered questions. And he found the timing too coincidental for it to be unrelated to their marriage”
It doesn’t take long for our heroine to realize something is not right, things are not what they seem, and the Caliph isn’t the monster he appears to be. Each dawn he allows her to live she learns more about him, she’s falling for him and she begins to question her vow.
“He sighed. “I envy people who see the world as you do.” “Are you insinuating I’m simple-minded?” Anger seeped into her words. “No. You see things the way you live your life. Without fear.” “That’s not true. I’m afraid of a lot of things.”
“And Shahrzad’s heart hurtled about in response, roaring for attention. Shiva, I swear to you, I will ignore the fickle little beast.”
“The bow and arrow clattered to the ground as he brought his mouth to hers. And there was no turning back.”
“I will not let him win. For Shiva’s sake. For my sake. I will learn the truth. Even if I have to destroy him to get it”
Tariq & Jahandar are minor but important characters. They play a role in bringing about conflicts necessary to the unfolding of the story.
Tariq is blinded by love. He’s always known he was going to marry Shahrzad, and was looking forward to their happily ever. He knew after Shiva’s death something wasn’t right with Shahrzad and now he feels guilty for not doing more. Shahrzad has taken matters into her own hands when he should’ve been the one to protect her. He will save her no matter the cost even if it’s from herself.
“No matter how many perfect young women you put in my path, there is only one Shahrzad.”
““Tariq, why are you doing this? Why are you fighting this battle?” “Because I love her,” Tariq said without hesitation.
‘Shahrzad was in love with Shiva’s murderer.”
“I know this isn’t you. I know something must have happened. But we can fix it. I can fix it.”
Jahandar is Shahrzad’s father. He hasn’t been the same since the death of his wife. He is riddled with guilt over his failure to save her he was completely powerless against the wasting disease that killed her. Now he must protect his daughter he knows what he must do he will not be powerless again and he will not fail.
“He closed his eyes and swallowed. He thought of his wife in her final days, as she lay gasping for breath, begging for a moment more with her children. Pleading for Jahandar to save her from the wasting disease. He thought of the instant he failed her, of the helplessness he felt holding her lifeless form in his arms”
“The power raged through him, searing into his bones. From atop its throne of mottled stones, the book’s silver light pulsed brighter than a star. Jahandar gasped and dropped the blade as the power collected in his chest, visceral in its magnificence. The ground beneath his feet trembled. He began to laugh. Holding his bloodstained arms up to the sky, he muttered the ancient words and watched the clouds churn at his behest. Reveled as they bowed to his whims. The book’s pages fluttered. His wind-whipped beard coiled about his throat. There would never be cause to disappoint anyone ever again. Tonight, he would prove his worth, once and for all. He would rescue his daughter. And save a kingdom. For he was Jahandar the Great. Jahandar the All-Powerful. Jahandar . . . the King of Kings.”
Shahrzad ultimately achieve’s her goal of stopping the killings although not in the way she originally planned. But now she has to save Khalid. The characters have evolved. Shahrzad began as Khalid’s wife and he her King, by the end of this tale she becomes his Queen and he her husband.
“When She met his eyes again, he blinked once. ”Wife” He nodded. “My King”
“A true plague of a girl. And yet a queen in every sense of the word. His queen.”
“Khalid’s features smoothed knowingly. “How right you are. You are not mine.” He dropped his palm from the door. “I am yours.”
I enjoyed this book; it definitely made me feel warm inside. It’s not often you come across complex and realistic characters that make you feel as though you’re living vicariously through them. Ahdieh has a ways with words. The language is poetic, inviting, and romantic to say the least. As you read this tale it wraps you in its arms like a familiar friend.
“I beseech you, my star . . . please see past the darkness. There is potential for boundless good in the boy I knew. Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath. If you would, give him the love that will enable him to see it for himself. To a lost soul, such a treasure is worth its weight in gold. Worth its weight in dreams.”
Although marketed for the YA reader, this novel is an eloquently written tale with enough complexity for adult readers to enjoy.