The Wrath and the Dawn is an upcoming novel by Renee Ahdieh. It is the first of a new fantasy series that retells The Arabian Nights stories. I was intrigued by the premise and downloaded this book from Edelweiss on complete whim several weeks ago. Two nights ago I started this book and debated not finishing it. Yesterday morning I picked it up and read more than half of it in one sitting.
Evidently, I was too tired the other night to fully appreciate what I was reading. My mistake, it won’t happen again.
Every night the Caliph of Khorasan, eighteen-year-old Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, marries a new young woman. Every dawn, without explanation, he has her killed. This has the families in Khorasan terrified that their family, and their daughters, could be next. Shahrzad (oft called Shazi) is determined to stop the murders and volunteers to become the next bride. She is grieving for her best friend Shiva, one of the Caliph’s many marital crimes, and she vows to kill Khalid at the expense of her own life. Turning her back on everything, her family and the only man she has ever loved, she gives herself to Khalid in the hopes that she will avenge the countless people who have suffered – that she will kill him.
On the first night she begins a story that she does not finish, the first of many. As a result, she is spared death the next morning. Over the course of the book a tenuous understanding begins to grow between the two, one that might spell betrayal for everyone that Shazi cares for…even her own foolish heart. But there are others who want to see the Caliph dead, many of whom will be willing to exploit Khalid’s newest weakness to overpower him.
This story is perfect, the telling of it better. Ahdieh conveys the best parts of The Arabian Nights tales and puts a fresh spin on it; a classic tale of forbidden love and a sense of being firmly trapped between two worlds. Shazi is strong and forward, a perfect foil to Khalid’s reticent observance. But Khalid is more than he seems; a King of Kings in a world of turmoil. I watched their story unfold at first with dubious reluctance. Then I reveled in it with unabashed abandon. Simply put, I could not put this book down.
The romance in this book is one for the ages. At this time the fantasy elements within are very small. It largely focuses on political schemings and court intrigue, which I love but they do run heavily on that end. The hint of magic, however, will carry any ardent fantasy fan through to the end and the romance blooms in a truly breathtaking manner.
And, now that I have hit the end, I really want book two. With a frightful passion.
This book is absolutely wonderful, cleverly told, and dynamic and bold in all ways. The characterizations are wonderful and the writing is always on point. It’s a simple story with a complicated tone and I loved this book. So much.
I cannot wait for The Rose and the Dagger.
5 out of 5 stars.
* The Wrath and the Dawn releases May 12, 2015
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