The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
or: THIS IS FANTASTIC AND SO WORTH THE WAIT
Synopsis: One Life to One 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?
It feels like I waited a 1000 years to get my hands on this book (Ha see what I did there?). Needless to say, when I opened this book as a present on Christmas Day, I was more than a little excited. I knew this book was going to be good; I could feel it in my bones. This book did not disappoint me.
Sumptuous writing, tantalizing character development, and a spellbinding plot, this book just simply has it all. A retelling of ‘A Thousand and One Nights‘, this book swirls in the old tale like cream in a luxe coffee. The characters are vivid and fascinating and I was honestly hard pressed to hate any character in the book; even the villains and the characters with questionable motives were excellent.
However, this a hard book to review. One of the reasons I put this review off for so long, is because it’s hard to work out what to say without spoiling some part of the complex plot. This book needs to be read with no expectations or knowledge of the plot. Trust me, I think the book summary is spoilery enough.
That being said, I’d like to talk in this review about the legitimacy and the strength of the POC narrator/main character. While no real heritage is given to the characters, it is assumed that the reader will equate them with an Arab or Turkish Lineage. And that’s certainly how I cast the characters. Not once does this proposed heritage feel forced or white washed; this was an authentic and true rendition and the biggest kudos needs to go to Ahdieh for her work here.
It’s not the first time I’ve talked about the need for more diverse fiction, or my desire to read more of it. But as has been the case recently in the Young Adult fiction world, there becomes times where the readers will turn against a writer if the POC characters or story feels disingenuous. All it takes is a brief look at the reviews on good reads to see that this is not the case for this story.
This story hits home on more that one aspect, and it’s definitely a book that captures your whole mind. This shows a flawless level of audience/author understanding and an admirable amount of skill on Ahdieh’s part.
The next book in this series is coming out later this month, and I am like an enegizer bunny desperately waiting to find out what happens next. Regardless of if you choose to read this book or not (you totally should- 100 billion out of 10 recommend), Ahdieh is definitely one too watch. If her debut is this good, heaven help us all when she reaches her peak.
I am not worthy. I am not ready.
Read: International Paperback Edition