Friday, February 12, 2016
Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, Book One
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 12 May 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
One Life to One Dawn.
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?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end. (summary from Goodreads)
The Wrath and the Dawn is a gorgeous, sumptuous feast for the senses.
I cannot even begin to describe how lovely the prose of The Wrath and the Dawn is. Ahdieh describes everything in great detail - the sights, the sound, the smells, the tastes, the feels. Every little thing of this world is brought to illustrious life through her words and it is truly wonderful. You can't help but get lost in the book. The great thing is, not only is it beautiful, but it's never boring, as so much detail might be expected to be. In saying that though, I must admit to wanting a little more action. I may have never gotten bored or frustrated with the narrative, but The Wrath and the Dawn ended somewhat abruptly for me, just as the action was coming into play. It certainly helps increase my desperation to read the next book, The Rose and the Dagger. Damn cliffhangers! I'm so glad the series is only a duology though. I think Ahdieh has enough to make it captivating and fantastic, but drawing it out over more books might have proven detrimental. As a retelling of The Arabian Nights I think Ahdieh has done magnificently. The way she's incorporated elements of the original stories is so great. In terms of Shazi telling stories each night to keep Khalid from executing her though, I wish Ahdieh had built on that more. I can see how it could have been too overly drawn out, but as it stands, there just wasn't enough to make me totally believe the life and death extremity of Shazi's situation. I mean, there's terrifying proof of what happened to previous wives, but Khalid is apparently risking a lot in keeping her alive, so I would have liked to have that turmoil more obvious. Considering the build up at the end of The Wrath and the Dawn though, setting up the plot of The Rose and the Dagger, I'm sure I'm going to get more turmoil than I can handle. I kind of can't wait!
Just like Ahdieh's world, so too do her characters come to life. I really enjoyed getting to know them all. The Wrath and the Dawn alternates between the points of view of a few characters. Mostly Shahrzad, Khalid, Shazi's childhood sweetheart, Tariq, and her father, Jahandar, though here and there there are others, just briefly. This allows us to see the world and story from multiple perspectives which I liked because there's so much more going on in the wider world that we would not have been privy to had the narrative remained only with Shazi and Khalid. I adored Shazi. I loved her strength. She's not strong because she's put herself in danger to avenge her best friend or because she's determined to kill Khalid. She's strong because she wants to learn the truth, she's determined to put the pieces together rather than act rashly, and that's a rare heroine - at least in the books I've been reading lately. The Wrath and the Dawn definitely has elements of a love triangle, but it's not wholly there yet and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping Ahdieh doesn't cross the line in The Rose and the Dagger either. I was instantly shipping Shazi and Khalid. I couldn't help it, their connection, even at the beginning when Khalid is no more than a mass murdering monster, is heart wrenching and swoon worthy. I like and feel for Tariq, but at times he's like a little boy who hates losing and that doesn't sit well with me. Plus Shazi is so forthright and capable in relation to everyone else but not with Tariq, and that frustrated me too. Me, I just want more Khalid. The truths, when they're revealed, are painful, and so yeah, I'm all for Khalid. I also want more of Jalal and Despina. Individually they are awesome, but there's a whole relationship there that I need to have resolved! I have a lot of glee when it comes to these two. Also, I loved that the supernatural elements are not the driving force of the story or the revelations, but an aftereffect. It makes the emotional impact of the narrative that much more human and terrible. These elements though, the magic of this story, are scary. Jahandar frightens me. Ahdieh only references tiny bits at a time, just little hints rather than outright obvious statements, but it's enough. Every narration from his point of view grows more and more chilling and I despair for Shazi and her younger sister. The bad feelings just increase and waiting for The Rose and the Dagger to see where Ahdieh takes us is also terrible.
But seriously. I want The Rose and the Dagger right now! The Wrath and the Dawn is a stunning retelling not to be missed.