Book Review: The Wrath & The Dawn

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Title: The Wrath & The Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date: October 2016

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?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

Rating: 4/5

Review: I have been waiting to read this book for the best part of a year and I finally got my hands on it at my local Waterstones. I was excited and slightly anxious because I had heard mixed things about it but, thanks to all of the book gods I prayed to, I loved it.

The plot line was alluring, even for one such as myself who rarely enjoys a romantic plot line. It is quite an obvious story which I usually hate but it was handled very well and I found myself rooting for Shazi and Khalid even though he is an absolute arse throughout most of the book.

Khalid and Shazi’s story was beautiful. The depth of emotion felt by them, the challenges they overcame were so heartfelt. I don’t really like romance books but this was something completely different. Despite the small matter of Khalid killing his wives the morning after (bit of an extreme way of ending a one night stand but what do I know), this union becomes so much more and you can physically feel their connection which transcends beyond physical attraction. Ahdieh creates such a perfect union by making the protagonists such well-rounded and complex characters; this contrasts between secondary characters who are not as well developed even though they do still play a large part in the story. Through Shazi’s eyes, the reader is allowed to take note of Khalid’s subtle body language, his eyes turning from stone to fire and his graze across Shazi’s skin which brings us, as well as Shazi, closer to him. However, her first love, Tariq, doesn’t get the same treatment and is more of a two dimensional character; even though we are told that Shazi was in love with Tariq, we are not made to feel the relationship like we are with her and Khalid’s. Unfortunately as the reader, I was made to root for the monster-king rather than the sweet, loving boy who would risk everything to save her and, the scary thing is, I’m not even sorry about it.

The one thing that really stood out for me was the descriptive writing, it was so captivating. Her use of imagery was incredible, you are truly whisked away to Rey and your senses feel like they’re being assaulted with Ahdieh’s use of colours, smells and sounds. The main things I was drawn into was the food, it was described in such a way it left me salivating;

[…] aromatic rice with fresh dill and split fava beans, lamb simmered in sauce of turmeric and caramelised onions, skewers of chicken and roasted tomatoes, fresh vegetables garnished with mint and chopped parsley, olives marinated in fine oil, lavash bread with rounds of goat cheese and seemingly endless sweet preserves [p.252].

*Wipes drool from her chin* Quite simply, she makes me hungry and that is an amazing thing to do through the pages of a book. Her description is simple but effective and you can almost smell and taste the food. Quite simply, the description that the writer lends to this book is stunning, it was just a real feast for the senses.

You may be surprised that, for all of my gushing of this book, it didn’t receive top marks from me. The reason it didn’t get 5* was because there were a few things within the plot line that, I felt didn’t belong there or that were unanswered. The magical element that was introduced sporadically throughout the book was not needed and was bordering on farcical. When magic was briefly introduced to the story, my heart sank simply because it was standing strong without it and, unless handled properly, it can ruin everything. I’m very worried that it will ruin the next book as I have a strong suspicion it features heavily in it. The other issue for me was that there was no explanation as to why Shazi was the one person he fell in love with. He killed all of his other wives the morning after he married them but not her, something about her stopped him from submitting her to the same fate as the others but what is it?! There is no reason or explanation and it drove me mad so, for those reasons, it got 4/5.

All in all, it is a beautiful, intense book that really captivated me. I really admire Ahdieh’s style of writing and her ability to ignite the reader’s senses through her description. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an Arabian adventure.

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On another note, I have recently created a bookstagram account on IG. It’s @carid_llyfr so take a look and give it a follow!

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