Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn, #1
The people of Khorasan live in fear of their caliph, Khalid, a young ruler who marries a new girl every day. And every morning the new bride is found dead. Shahrzad is determined to put an end to the caliph’s reign of terror by ending his life in retribution for the lives he’s taken, including her best friend’s. As Khalid’s newest bride, Sharhzad knows her life will be forfeit by morning, but she is willing to do anything to survive the night and slay the monster. What Sharhzad did not expect was to find a troubled young man behind the caliph’s stone façade, one who is hiding a dark secret that may change everything.
“Love is a force unto itself, sayyidi. For love, people consider the unthinkable…and often achieve the impossible. I would not sneer at its power.”
Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn is an enchanting and rich retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. Beautifully written and poignantly told, this debut novel is sure to win the hearts of its readers. Sharhzad is outspoken and strong-willed; her untamed opinions and dismissive attitude toward the caliph borders on recklessness, yet it is these qualities that make her a force to be reckoned with. I was immediately drawn to her and her quest to take down the murderous king. Khalid was a bit harder to feel invested in as he remains a mystery not only to Sharhzad but also to the readers. But like the protagonist, once I finally caught a glimpse of the real Khalid, I was intrigued and had to know more. Their relationship is a mixture of ups and downs, which left me simultaneously exhausted and wanting more.
Every character is a bit of a mystery in this novel, which will intrigue some readers and frustrate others. That being said, they are also complex, flawed, and worthy of further explorations. Despina, Sharhzad’s handmaiden, is a character you immediately want to be an ally for the protagonist, but you aren’t sure where her loyalties truly lie and whether trusting her is worth the risk. I’m hoping to learn more about Tariq, Sharhzad’s childhood sweetheart, who immediate takes action the moment he hears that Khalid has taken her as a wife. At times his actions grated on my nerves, but I believe he has a chance to grow as a character and I’m interested to see what choices he ends up making in the future.
Even though it took me a while to really get into The Wrath & the Dawn, once I reached the end I felt emotional drained and desperate for more. I had a few issues with the way the novel reveals its mysteries, but there’s no denying its emotional impact.