Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Wrath and The Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath and The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons (Penguin), 2015 (Hardcover)
Length: 388 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: July 17, 2015
Finished: July 26, 2015

From the inside cover:

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 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.

This book is surrounded by so much hype, I pretty much had to read it. Although I didn't fall madly, crazy-in-love with it, it was an immensely enjoyable read.

Based on 1001 Nights, you have a king in a middle-eastern/arabian-esque land who takes a new bride every night and kills her by morning. A new wife manages to defy the odds by spinning tales that keep the king intrigued enough to let her live. When Shahrzad's best friend, Shiva, dies in such a manner, Shahrzad volunteers as Khalid's next bride so she might avenge Shiva's death. Shahrzad is great as a character, she gets my stamp of approval. She is fierce and fiery, sharp-tongued, and pretty good with a bow and arrow. She wavers on the whole revenge thing when she realizes she's falling in love with Khalid, which takes her down a few pegs, but they have to fall in love for the story to work, so not much you can do there. Khalid was very nicely developed as well, he's very stoic at times, but then surprises everyone by being incredibly romantic and emotional and a formidable swordsman. I also liked Jalal, especially how he interacted with Khalid. Shahrzad and Khalid make for an incredible couple, and their conversations made me feel like I'd been hit by a 2x4 and then melted in a puddle on the floor, some of the dialogue is amazing.

I wish the magic had been more developed. It felt as if the magic element came out of nowhere towards the end in regards to the reasons why Khalid kills all his brides. I also wish readers could've seen more of the reasons why Khalid keeps Shahrzad alive, we can guess but we never really know. The good thing is that a sequel is coming (the cliffhanger had me going for a while until I saw the preview for book 2), so we'll get a chance to see more development in those areas.

If you like retellings, you need to give this a shot, if for nothing else than the incredible portrayal of the romance between Khalid and Shahrzad, it's worth the read.

Thoughts on the cover:
I adore how this was designed. The red cover with gold inlays make for an eye-pleasing colour scheme, and you can see a hint of a portrait of Shahrzad underneath, the full colour version of which you can see on the inside cover. I love how Shahrzad actually looks middle eastern as well (yay for diversity in YA fiction!).

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