Title: The Wrath & The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 388 Pages
Published May 2015
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Summary: 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?After hearing so much hype about this book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it myself. I couldn't find it at my library, so I placed an order on Book Depository and got a copy as soon as I possibly good. At the time, every single one of my Goodreads friends that reviewed this book rated it five stars - so at least I knew I was getting into something good! (Even if I am the only friend on Goodreads who gave it a less than five-star rating, but I'll explain why.)
So, as the summary explains, in this city in the Middle East, the king takes a new bride and then has her hanged at sunrise. Nobody knows why, and this horrible behavior is why the entire region hates its king. So when Shazi, a young, fiery girl is his next bride, she swears to take him down and avenge the death of her best friend that died at his hands. Instead of being hanged at sunrise, Shazi manages to convince her king to keep her alive for longer and longer - until the unthinkable happens, and they actually fall in love.
It took me a little while to get into the swing of things with this book, because I'm not really all that familiar with the surnames and things that go along with Middle Eastern culture. A lot of names are thrown around (very long, hard-to-pronounce names), so it was hard to keep track of them all. That (and one other thing that I'll mention later) is the reason that I didn't give this book a full five-star rating. The book itself was great, but I spent a majority of the time having to go back and reread certain parts because I was really confused about who was speaking and who each person was and what their name was. It was just a little bit confusing, but eventually I got the hang of it.
The other reason that this book didn't get a full five-star rating was Tariq. I didn't like him at all. He may have been Shazi's first love and he may be doing everything he does to save her, but he really rubbed me the wrong way. He's arrogant, doesn't listen to anybody, and creates way more destruction than there needs to be. (Brief spoilers ahead to skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) He also just can't seem to accept the fact that Shazi is in love with another man. She tries to tell him, numerous times, that what he is doing is dangerous and she doesn't want his help and she has found a place where she belongs and she wants to stay there. Especially at the end. He's bull-headed and arrogant and I just really didn't like him.
Even though I had those two points that kept me from giving this book a five-star rating, it was still a really great book. I loved all of the world-building and the culture and the swoon-worthy romance between Shazi and her king. I even liked Despina, her handmaiden, who was sharp and witty and really amusing. Shazi herself was also a great character - full of wit, sass, and cunning. The fact that she manages to be the only queen who lives for more than one night is a feat in and of itself. But reading about all of her antics and wit and the relationship with her caliph was the best entertainment I've read in a long time.
When you eventually find out why all of the brides keep having to die, it definitely shocks you. (I'll save you all the juicy details - read the book yourself!) It makes you realize that Shazi's husband may not actually be the horrible monster he seems to be, with the events in his past and what he has to do now for his people. You definitely start to sympathize with the man that was called the monster, and eventually you'll even find yourself rooting for him. (I was rooting for him very early on, but finding out this information definitely sealed the deal for me.) So if I had to choose between Shazi being with Tariq or Khalid, I would definitely choose Khalid a thousand times over. (This is also because of how I mentioned I really, really don't like Tariq.)
All in all, The Wrath and the Dawn was an engaging, incredible read filled with love, loss, desperation, and doing everything in your power to fight for what you love. I really, really enjoyed this book and I'll definitely be ordering the second book in the series, The Rose & The Dagger, as soon as it's available to me! (Or I may be nabbing an ARC...;D) Renee Ahdieh is an amazing author and I'm very impressed with her work, so I can't wait to read more of it! If you haven't read The Wrath and the Dawn yet, I definitely recommend adding it to your TBR as soon as possible. (There's even a link at the top of this post so you can do so!)