The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

wrathThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1 (1/2)
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 404
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

4 Stars, Completed July 7, 2016

– this review is very long; you can read the bold text to get the main idea and to avoid major SPOILERS –

“…the thing that I have learned above all is that no individual can reach the height of their potential without the love of others. We are not meant to be alone, Shahrzad. The more a person pushes others away, the clearer it becomes he is in need of love the most.”

The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling inspired by the classic, One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories. In the original tale, a king learns of his wife’s infidelity and executes her. Out of bitterness and distrust, he then begins a cycle where he takes a virgin bride each night and kills her the next morning before she can commit any acts of crime against him. Then one girl, Scheherazade, the daughter of the king’s vizier, breaks this horrifying routine by defying the odds. She becomes the king’s next bride, and each night she cleverly tells him a story but also just begins another. This cunning tactic ensures Scheherazade’s safety because the king becomes too intrigued to kill her the next dawn, and thus she survives for 1001 nights (and hence the birth of the compilation of stories). The Wrath and the Dawn follows this storyline loosely with its own twists along with a touch of magic. And, of course, this time the Shahrzad in the retelling finds herself falling in love with the tormented monster king.

“After all, every story has a story.”

Oh gosh, be prepared for an incredibly long review (like extra, “more than Summer’s usual” long). I just have so much I’d like to share after reading this wonderful debut novel by Renée Ahdieh.

As my pre-review had mentioned, I dived into The Wrath and the Dawn with extremely high expectations after all the praise and stellar reviews it seemed to have received after its release.

Initially, the first 150 pages were pretty underwhelming for me. I can see where the inspiration of 1001 Nights begins because Shahrzad does quite a lot of storytelling the first few nights she spends with the king. Perhaps, in real life, she’d make a pretty convincing and engaging storyteller, but seeing as readers have to read these stories themselves via her dialogue I didn’t really care for these excerpts, which were literally paragraphs of passages. They were just too long and unexciting.

However, this didn’t really deter me from liking The Wrath and the Dawn because there was one greatly redeeming quality: the romance.

“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.
“No.” His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”

I’ve had protagonists that I’ve admired (Hermione from HP, Kestrel from The Winner’s Trilogy, etc); I’ve had plenty of book crushes (Jem from The Infernal Devices, Wes from The Truth About Forever, etc); and, sure, I use OTP liberally in my reviews and casually ship fictional couples all the time (Kell and Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic, Annabel and Owen from Just Listen, etc). But, everyone, Khalid and Shazi make the golden OTP in fictional literary history for me. This may just well be my favorite YA romance of all time. No couple in YA literature has ever had a duo that complemented each other so well as Shazi and Khalid or have had such a great hold on my fangirl’s heart as them. Happy sigh. I just ship them so hard, okay?

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”

Shahrzad doesn’t seem to standout in comparison to other heroines. She’s supposedly beautiful, witty, and sharp-tongued, which are attributes that aren’t really uncommon for “strong” female leads. However, this doesn’t make her by any means unlikable. By the end of this first installment, I really grew fond of her. One of Shazi’s best qualities was her bold fearlessness. And, as befitted a queen, she was graceful, elegant, and beguiled in many ways. Some may argue that her initial determination with revenge was easily broken, which I do agree (and will touch upon later in this review), but I’d say that she grew a newfound purpose of protecting something else equally important to her as avenging her best friend’s death. (Theme: forgiveness overshadowing revenge.)

But what made this relationship even better was the male counterpart. Though mysterious, the earliest thing that caught my attention with Khalid is that he rarely lies and he’s a man of his word-the first sign that he couldn’t be as bad as he’s rumored to be. He’s not only honest, but sensitive, self-sacrificing, among many other pleasant characteristics. But more importantly, Khalid respects and admires women. He expresses that he sees Shahrzad as his equal and actually treats her so.

“People fall in and out of love with the rising and setting of the sun. Rather like a boy who loves the color green one day, only to discover on the morrow that he truly prefers blue.”

But he’s also flawed in that he’s easily provoked, has quite a nasty temper, and is wary of love.

So, basically, I feel like Khalid could make an ideal fictional book boyfriend for many. (Don’t worry, I’m not at all shaken. I’m still entirely loyal to my fictional crush, Jem Carstairs, but after The Wrath and the Dawn, I could write up an appreciation post just dedicated to Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, because he’s just that charming and lovable.)

“You have a beautiful laugh. Like the promise of tomorrow.”

(Oh, how I love this quote!) This quote, as many others from the book, are completely ordinary. It may seem like characters from other books could pull off the same script. Yet, I found the simple dialogue to work so exclusively well for the cast in The Wrath and the Dawn. For example, with the one above, I wouldn’t be bothered if someone else said it, but when Khalid does it holds a lot of meaning. After all, he has the reputation of a murderous monster king that kills his young brides by the dawn of the next day. For that reason, I find this romantic declaration ironic but significant, too. The Wrath and the Dawn can be quite cheesy in script at times, yet it works for me.

As for the supporting cast, I very much enjoyed the appearances the other characters made. At first, when the full cast was introduced with their first and (similar) last names it was overwhelming, but I soon found myself comfortably remembering each for their distinct personalities.

And, of course, there always has to be an antagonist. It’s hard to pinpoint who that is in The Wrath and the Dawn. Perhaps, Salim, Reza, or even Jahandar would fit the role. However, though I’m not sure if he’d make the main villain, it was Tariq that annoyed the heck out of me. His intentions were probably good but his character was so dumb and condescending, and therefore infuriating to read. Both me and Lois were so peeved that Tariq assumed that the only way Shazi could fall in the love with the king instead of him, her childhood crush, was Stockholm Syndrome-and this was even after Shazi’s protests and explanations. Like what an arrogant ass! And I also didn’t like that they (Tariq and Reza) were planning to riot against the king and create a war just because of Shazi (pretty much). I was so tempted to skip every single Jalal, Rahim, and Reza point of view because I was that irritated. Yet, I wouldn’t say my rating is based on my dislike for Tariq. I have other reasons that prevented me from giving this book 5 stars.

So, yes, with all this infinite praise, why 4 stars? (Warning! The answers to this question are spoilers.)

Prior to picking up The Wrath and the Dawn, I did read several well written negative reviews from reviewers I trust. And they were certainly right on one account: Shahrzad becomes attracted to Khalid and her resolve to exact revenge for her best friend’s murder dissolves rather quickly-to be precise in 2 days.

My problem wasn’t the fact that she was falling in love with Khalid, aka the murderer of her best friend. Yes, that does sound very wrong. But, in a way, I totally could understand that because before reading the book or any reviews I knew that Khalid couldn’t have been innately bad and he had to have a reason for the murders. (I sort of digress… But, from Shazi’s perspective, of course, falling in love with your best friend’s killer is horrifying. However, I believe we should also imagine ourselves in Khalid’s position as well. If you were cursed as he was, what would you do? Not save your people when you know you’re capable? Also, 100 women seems far less than what 100 is a thousandfold… But then again, it’s still murder, which is still very corrupt and horrific. The entire killing the brides ordeal will always be controversial, but in this fictional tale there is an explanation, whether it be valid enough depends on the reader. Personally, I fall under the group that’ll take this elucidation. But, seriously, thank goodness this is a work of fiction.) Also, as I mentioned earlier in my review, I like the idea of forgiveness overshadowing revenge. However, what I didn’t like was that Shahrzad-someone that is supposed to be so stubborn and determined-could easily be swayed in such a short amount of time. I guess if it took her 2 weeks instead of 2 days for her resolve to crumble the book would be more slower paced, yet I still feel like that route would have been more believable and appease me more. Shazi having conflicted feelings after the 48 hours just didn’t seem right and felt rushed.

I was also disappointed by how little magic is involved with the story. We do get a glimpse of it with Musa, Jahandar, the stories, the curse, and the carpet. But there wasn’t much aside from these brief moments to my dismay.

Okay, so I trust that I’ve discussed all the points that I wanted to touch upon. Let’s end this review before it reaches over 2,000 words. 

After the immense hype, I was skeptical, and I certainly had qualms with the less than engaging start, but by the end I totally melted into a puddle of feels. The Wrath and the Dawn turned out to be far from flawless, but still a captivating journey that I grew to love nevertheless. The evocative descriptions of the clothing, food, and setting inspired by Middle Eastern traditions are so lush; the cast is so charming and endearing; and the romance is beyond swoonworthy. I highly, highly recommend this title to those that can appreciate a good romance in a YA fantasy story.

Summer’s Playlist:
Unfold | Drift | The Power of Love | King
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

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33 thoughts on “The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      THANK YOU, Marie! I couldn’t not gush about Khalid and Shazi since they are too perfect for each other. ❤ I liked book two a little less, honestly, but I do hope you enjoy The Rose and the Dagger just as much as book one if not more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Zoe says:

    Yeah! I’m so glad you enjoyed this so much! ❤ The romance and the worldbuilding was absolutely fantastic, wasn’t it? Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois says:

    You basically summed up everything I was going to say haha. I’m still not over the beauty of Khalid and Shahrzad’s relationship and I will never get over how much Khalid respects her and truly acts on his views of her being his equal. He’s definitely a smooth talker but his actions always back up those words.

    Ugh Tariq. I forgot how much I hated him in the first book and then I started writing my review and all those feelings came tumbling back – with force. His actions are the antithesis to Khalid and it just reinforces how important it was to have Khalid treat Shazi with the respect she deserves.

    sighs I wish we could just stay with Khalid and Shazi a little longer. I’m still going through withdrawals!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      LOL. Looking back at my review I feel like I wrote way too much. Like, Summer, what were you thinking? It must have been the aftereffects of the Khalid/Shazi high. However, I do think I’m almost ready to let go of the beloved couple and move on with reading some books now!

      And ugh, Tariq will remain as one of the most hated characters in history for me… I actually tend to like villains, but Tariq is such a grey antagonist and I can’t every justify his actions no matter how hard I try. “…it just reinforces how important it was to have Khalid treat Shazi with the respect she deserves” But you make a good point! He was a needed character despite our annoyance with him. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lois says:

        You can never write too much about a book and being swept away by Shazi/Khalid is definitely nothing to complain about haha.

        Ugh Tariq. I still get so pissed at him when I think about his actions. He was truly despicable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks says:

    This review is magnificent and puts into words my exact thoughts. Though my rating was 4.5 and this book ended up on my Top of 2015 list, I had the same problems with the initial storytelling aspect of it. I also found the chapters surrounding Shazi’s family rather dull. I simply didn’t care about them, perhaps because I was so drunk on the dynamics of Shazi and Khalid’s relationship that nothing else seemed to matter. Khalid is so perfect, so complex and tortured yet sweet and lovely and amazing. T_T And the two are such goals, omg.

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      One of the reasons why I bumped this up so high on my priority TBR for the summer was because of your review, haha. I totally remember you gushing over Khalid. XD And lol, “I was so drunk on the dynamics of Shazi and Khalid’s relationship that nothing else seemed to matter” really sums up how I was feeling. And yes! Shazi and Khalid are too perfect for each other. ❤

      Like

  4. Fatima @ NoteablePad says:

    Lovely review, Summer! You know exactly how I feel about TWatD, but I can really understand your reasons for giving it 4 stars. In particular, I didn’t consider the forgiveness overshadowing revenge theme, or think it through much. But like you also acknowledged, it only took Shahrzad 2 days to fall in love with Khalid. I think it would’ve been better if she started to feel this way after she found out the truth. That might’ve made me like it a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Fatima! Ah yes, I remember. ^.^ I so agree with you on the 2 day fact though; Shazi definitely moved on way too fast, which was really disappointing after all the claims that were made about her being so stubborn and determined… Oh well! Anyway, thank you for reading my review even though you already knew my thoughts on this. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thuong Le says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Summer! This time I only read the bold text and not the whole thing because of spoilers XD sounds like the romance aspect of the story is what makes it worth reading. Aw its a shame that not much magic was involved in the story though! Well written and great in-depth review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Lately, I’ve struggled with making spoiler free reviews-espeically for this one since I had so much to gush about, lol. But I’m glad you read only the spoiler free sections. I wanted more but I was overall very satisfied with The Wrath and the Dawn. I highly recommend it! 😀 Thanks so much, Thuong! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      I noticed that a lot of the people that had problems with the story were those that didn’t like how Shazi could fall in love with such a monster. I can totally see their points and respect their opinions, but, personally, I thought it was just as important to view the picture in Khalid’s perspective as well. 😛

      And thanks, Richard!

      Like

  6. Warisha Reads says:

    Summer! You’re like the mother of all reviewers! It’s brilliant. I haven’t read the book as yet. i really don’t know why. A Thousand Nights used to be one of my favourite bed time stories. Your splendid review just urged me to grab it soon.
    The romance sounds so much up my alley especially when it directly has to do everything with the characters lives. Complementing each other! Sounds fantastic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Becca @ Becca and Books says:

    Firstly, LOVE YOUR NAILS!! Secondly, I have many feelings about this book. I rated it 5 stars last year. But thinking it over and looking at my old review…I really didn’t feel the positives I wrote, I felt like I was writing was everyone else was saying because everyone loved it and I loved the premise so I wanted to love it so much I kind of tricked myself into it. Now, I don’t really know what I feel. I think I need to read it again to understand.
    Anywayyssss, LOVE YOUR REVIEWS AS ALWAYS. Sorry for being inactive since commenting for like ever, but I still envy your ability to write long reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, such a belated reply but thanks so much, Becca! The color is OPI’s famous color, Cajun Shrimp, in case you ever want to wear it yourself. I bet it’d look nice on your olive skin tone. And haha, I get what you mean. Sometimes the hype and praise a book is surrounded by kind of influences my final opinion too. Plus, it was a struggle with trying to be both the subjective and objective review for this title. It was so entertaining but it didn’t come without its problems. AND AWW, THANK YOU. You’re too sweet. I’m also envious of your concise reviews. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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