Why the hell don’t we have more magical and historical books outside of Western Europe? We are so freaking deprived!
But seriously, we need more books like The Wrath and the Dawn. I was a bit nervous going into it, despite all the rave reviews, because it was more of a historical fantasy book, which can often blend together. Of course, when I thought that, I was thinking of the endless Middle-Ages-in-Western-Europe fantasies – you know the type, from A Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones to countless YA types, like A Wicked Thing, which I read around the same time as this one. That book and this one kept threatening to mix together in my mind, but that definitely didn’t happen because The Wrath and the Dawn was so freaking original and different and awesome (although I did enjoy A Wicked Thing, as you’ll see in my next review).
There are so many things to enjoy and downright love about this book!
There are so many characters to like and even love in this book, from our lovely and amazing protagonist, Shahrzad, our moody but fascinating love interest, Khalid, and many amazing secondary characters, from Shahrzad’s maid who could be her only real friend in the volatile situation she’s gotten herself into to Khalid’s cousin and partial second-in-command. At the beginning, I had a little trouble keeping track of everyone’s name, but I think that might have more to do with the fact that I’m American who mostly reads books with 95% Western names and names that are nouns and such, not the fault of the book itself. I also found out at the end that there was a glossary at the back of the book, which might have come in handy earlier, but whatever, I learned to adapt.
I had so many favorite things about this book, but I think this was my favorite of the favorite things, since it obviously lent itself to an originality that we lack in many fantasy books – at least, the fantasy books that I’ve read and disliked or loved. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about Middle Eastern geography other than general names of countries and some of the better-known cities that show up in American news every once in a while, so I don’t know if the locations in this story are real ones – I’m amusing they aren’t, seeing how this is fantasy and all, but not ruling it out – but I did recognize a place or two, places that are mentioned off in the distance but don’t play a big part in this particular story. The climate of the world lends itself to fashion, architecture, and other things that we don’t get to see so much in YA fantasy – or YA in general (or fiction in general, but I haven’t read enough adult books to make that claim 100%), and I just want so much more, both in the sequels and in other books!
I didn’t think that I would like the romance all that much. I mean, even if you didn’t know the basic premise of 1,001 Nights, which this is a retelling of, all you have to do is read the summary to know that Khalid is not a snuggly, happy person – he has a horrible track record of killing his brides, in fact, including Shahrzad’s best friend. You expect things to change between them, but I wasn’t sure if I would support the change at all; well, I was wrong, and I shipped this ship so shipping much! I just wanted them to be together, the lack of explanation on Khalid’s part be damned! And yes, the fact that Khalid wouldn’t tell her what was going on until the second half or so was quite annoying at times, but I still found myself wanted to shove them together and see romantic relationship stuff happening! I NEED MORE OF SHAHRZAD AND KHALID, NO MATTER HOW BROKEN AND MESSED UP THEIR RELATIONSHIP MIGHT BE!
The Diversity! Hell yeah, diversity!
I’ve already talked about this a bit, but I’ll say it again: diversity, yay! It’s easy to feel like you’ve seen it all in a genre, and I can really feel that way about fantasy, which is why I’m so selective about the fantasy books I read. Now I want all the diversity though – don’t stop at a Middle Eastern fantasy, give me Asian, Mexican, African, Native American, Aboriginal – just give me all the diversity, because if they’re as imaginative and well-written as this book was, then they can not go wrong!
All of these things drew me into the story, but they would have been nothing if I hadn’t loved just reading it. There was something about the writing that lured me in on the very first page and wasn’t quite ready to let me go once I reached the last. Also, the book itself is gorgeous – that girl you see peeking through the starbursts on the cover shows up in all her glory and beauty on the next page, and the chapter headings get to be decorative and pretty as well. I need a copy of this book so that I can read it over and over again and just stare it at every once in a while. I NEED THE SEQUEL NOW!
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Position: Book One in the Wrath and the Dawn series
Author: Renée Ahdieh
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.