Book Report: The Wrath & The Dawn

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Its been so long since I’ve written and I was recently fussed at by my cousin for it so, I thank her for getting me back on track. The Wrath & The Dawn is the debut novel of Renée Ahdieh and was published in 2015.

The Wrath & The Dawn is the story of Sharzhad and Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. Sharzhad is a confident, strong willed, cunning, intelligent young woman who has just been married to the Caliph of Khorasan. This is no fairy tale marriage though as the Caliph marries a new young bride every evening, to have them killed every morning. In a surprising twist, Sharzhad, or Shazi, is the first bride to volunteer for marriage. The fact that Shazi volunteered knowing her fate is enough to intrigue Khalid but when he comes to her room on the night of their wedding, he is entranced by her. She offers to tell him a story but does not finish before the sun comes up; Shazi gambles with her life, promising the Caliph he will hear the rest of the story only if she lives to tell the tale. And so, Shazi is the first Calipha of Khorasan to survive her wedding night.

Shazi, and the people of Khorasan, know the Caliph is a monster because who could ruin so many families and take so many innocent lives for no reason?  Shazi spends each night with Khalid, weaving tales and buying herself time to enact her revenge. You see, one of the Caliph’s previous brides was Shazi’s best friend and she has donned the mantle of Calipha to make the Caliph pay. But the Caliph is a complicated man with a tragic past of his own and vengeance is not so easy once Shazi begins to see her husband not as the Caliph of Khorasan but as the quiet, confident, respectful, attentive Khalid.

As Shazi and Khalid spend their nights together talking and their days at court, they begin to see each other as equals and that mutual respect turns into something deeper. It is a struggle that is almost unbearable for Shazi – how could she be falling for the man who murdered her most beloved friend? Shazi’s life in the palace is a dangerous one; her survival, and the Caliph’s growing protectiveness of her, is a threat to Khalid and the kingdom in ways she doesn’t understand. She knows though, despite her best efforts to convince her head and heart otherwise, that Khalid is no monster. The string of sacrificed brides is no mere whim or game and it crushes Khalid both physically and emotionally. As Shazi learns the reasons behind Khalid’s actions and his risk in keeping her alive and acting out of love for her, she can’t ignore the love she feels for him. Shazi will do what she can to protect Khalid, even if it means doing the one thing that will break both of their hearts.

The sequel to The Wrath & The Dawn just came out a couple of months ago so I won’t tell you how this one ends. If the plot sounds familiar its because it is a retelling of the ancient tale 1001 Arabian Nights. Ahdieh’s writing is so real, the kingdom of Khorasan is brought to life through small details that make it feel alive. Shazi and Khalid are fully realized characters with layers and motivations that reveal themselves over time. I loved Shazi and Khalid’s relationship and the movement of their story. In fact, there is a subplot of magic and people trying to rescue Shazi but ALL I WANTED was to get back to the Caliph and Calipha. The romance is well built and such a slow-burn of passion that when it finally lights up, oh, SWOON. The Wrath & The Dawn is a great addition to the YA universe; its got love, intrigue, magic, mystery and great characters. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Rose & The Dagger.

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