So I am somewhat amazed that I hadn't heard of this book prior to last week. I found it while perusing Facebook and someone posted a picture of the novel talking about how they were so excited for the new book to come out. The cover looked pretty, and I knew I'd seen it before, but had never really looked into it, so I looked up the synopsis on Goodreads and I couldn't figure out how I hadn't already added it to my TBR list. It has quite a few things I look for in a book-fantasy, love, a little bit of magic, and it's a retelling of Arabian Nights (aka One Thousand and One Nights), which I've never read, but I do know the story of it. So I decided why not, I need a good love story right now, and boy did I get one!
Following the story line of Arabian Nights, The Wrath & the Dawn follows the story of Shahrzad, Shazi for those who know her well, who has volunteered to marry Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, the Caliph of Khorasan, the King of Kings. Although the title is impressive, to Shahrzad and the city of Rey, he is a monster. But why? Because every night, Khalid takes a new bride, and by dawn she is dead. So any normal person wouldn't volunteer to marry someone if they knew the next morning they were going to have a silk cord wrapped around their throat, never to see the light of day again. But Shahrzad is here to seek revenge for the death of her best friend, and cousin to the boy she loves, Shiva, who also married Khalid and was killed.
Throughout the course of the story, Shahrzad befriends her handmaiden, Despina, and the captain of the guard, Jalal, who is also the cousin to Khalid. At night, Shazi tells stories to Khalid, leaving every night on a cliffhanger so that Khalid will not kill her, and she spends her days trying to figure out how she will kill the monster. But she must also fear for her own life because if someone finds out her plans to kill the Caliph, she will be killed. Also, there is someone trying to poison her, and attempts on her life are made on multiple occasions.
While all of this is happening, Tariq, the boy who Shazi loves, is trying to make his way to Rey so he can kill the Caliph and rescue his love. With the help of his friend Rahim, Reza bin-Latief, his uncle, and Jahandar al-Khaysuran, Shazi's father, he comes up with a plan and sets about to save his love.
While Shahrzad is living in the palace, she learns what she can about Khalid, in hopes of learning why so many girls have died at his hand. Throughout the course of the book, you learn that Khalid does not sleep at night, and that rain is scarce. The way Renée Ahdieh sticks these tidbits into the story, you don't think much of them, but they are important as to why the young girls of Rey are being plucked from their families to marry a murderer.
The more time Shazi spends with the Caliph, the more she learns that there is more to the monster behind the mask and they fall in love. Their love is strengthened when she learns of the curse that Khalid is bound to, all because of a girl named Ava.
When Khalid leaves on a trip to try and settle a war effort that is building, Tariq comes to rescue Shazi, not knowing that she has fallen for the beast, or that Khalid is not currently in the palace. Reza uses the little magical strength that he has left to cause a lightening storm that burns down portions of the palace and the town of Rey, causing thousands of people to die. In the Caliph's absence, Jalal tries to protect Shazi from being taken by Tariq, but when they see the destruction that has befallen the city, he tells Tariq to take her out of Rey and never let her return.
What I Liked
- Shahrzad is an amazing heroine. She goes in this to get revenge, but she also wants to know why this is happening. She isn't just blood thirsty. When she learns that the reason is something out of the Caliph's control, she changes her attitude. She also doesn't take shit from anyone. On the night after the wedding, she makes a comment to Khalid which causes him to tell her that she could be killed for saying that; she comes back with telling him that she's already dead.
- The love story is organic. It's not love at first sight, it's real. It happens the way that most relationships do...you know, when you're married to a royal who could kill you any morning.
- It's not just a retelling of Arabian Nights, but in a lot of ways, Beauty and the Beast. Two retellings for the price of one? Yes please!
- You have no clue who the bad guy is. There are so many different definitions of good guys and bad guys, I don't know who to hate. And then the ending! Lines are very clearly drawn and only the reader knows.
What I Didn't Like
- Magic is clearly very important to the story line, but it's not very well explained. At the beginning of the book, Jahandar brings a rose to Shahrzad and uses magic to make it bloom, but it dies in his hands. It took me a good part of the book to realize he was using magic there, and it was only because the curse is magic. I really didn't know how magic was involved up until then, I just knew it eventually played a part in the story because I read the synopsis for The Rose & the Dagger and it mentions magic.
- I hate Tariq. I don't know what others opinions of him are, but I think he is stupid. I get that he's upset that his girlfriend is supposed to be killed by the Caliph, but after she has survived more than a month, you think he'd get that something is up. Especially after she tells him that it's not what he thinks. But go ahead and let your testosterone run your life. No one tried to warn you that you were being stupid.
I'm so glad I read this book! I needed some romance in my life, and one can only watch Sex & the City so many times before you get tired of watching Carrie end up with Big (I will always be #TeamBig). And despite the fact that it's a Fantasy, the characters are very real. They acknowledge their wrongdoings and attempt to repent for them; they know that forgiveness doesn't happen over night. Also, if someone can find me a Caliph so we can fall madly in love, I'd really appreciate it. Now I'm ready to dive into The Rose & the Dagger, and the 3 other books I'm currently reading.
Pages: 395 (hardback)
Number of Books in Series: Currently 2 Primary Works and 3 Novellas
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Retelling
Would I Recommend It: Yes! I think every girl, lady, woman needs to read this for the heroine factor; I think everyone needs to read it for the story.