I found this book on my recommended list on amazon, read the info and simply had to give it a read, and I’m so glad I did.
Renee Ahdieh’s novel The Wrath & The Dawn centres on Khalid ibn al Rashid aka the Caliph of Khorasan who takes a new bride each night and by dawn they are executed. When her best friend is one of these unfortunate brides, Shahrzad ( Shazi) volunteers to be his next one, in order to avenge Shiva’s death and find out why these young women are executed and get to the root of the mystery. In the fashion of 1001 nights, Shazi tells the Caliph different fantastical stories each night, promising to tell him the end if he lets her live and thereby avoids her execution with each sunrise.
I really enjoyed the way the story unfolds and you find out why these executions take place, and that there is much more to Khalid than we’re originally led to believe. The description in this book is beautiful and the prose is rich and poetic. I really like Ahdiehs style of writing.
Their relationship develops from hatred on Shazi’s part to a more complex attraction and mutual affection. I’m always a fan of a bit of angst which then leads to a romantic resolution and this book certainly didn’t disappoint on that level. I would have liked to see more development if possible and what about Shazi, makes Khalid change his mind. But the tension was believable and exciting in every scene Khalid and Shazi share. Take this example :
“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.”
and the gushy parts, which the romantic in me appreciated:
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
As well as the romance taking centre stage, there was the element of magic and mythology that is also touched upon, with Shazi and her family having access to certain powers. I’m sure that in the second book in the duology; The Rose & The Dagger, this will be expanded on further but it was off to a great a start in this book. I also really liked the few secondary characters which we got to know, Jalal and Despina being my personal favourites. This interaction between the two women was interesting:
“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”
“I am not a fool.”
“No, you’re not. Not yet.”
Jalal is likeable and his loyalty to both Khalid and Shazi enhanced the story. As for Tariq, Shazi’s childhood sweetheart, he was likeable enough and I did like the glimpses of their relationship that we got to see, but felt a bit flat at times. Oddly enough I liked Rahim more even though he wasn’t present a lot. The friendships in this book are strong and well established despite the book only being 400 pages long.
I also really appreciate the fact that the book features prominent characters of colour and is a really good foray into diverse literature. I only wish I could have read books like this when I was much younger. So if you’re looking to read more books with a diverse setting and characters, this is definitely a welcome addition to any collection.
If there was anything I could have changed, it would probably be that Khalid would open up to Shazi earlier in the book, the big reveal (why his brides are executed) was left to really late in the book. I think it would have been really interesting to see what would have happened had Shazi known earlier and how this may have affected the ending.
I’m really looking forward to reading the next book and no doubt I’ll eagerly speed through. Can’t get enough of Shazi and Khalid as well as Ahdiehs great writing!
Until next time,