Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath & The Dawn is a good tribute to the classic.
In an ancient land ruled by a murderous young king, 16 year old Shahrzad has become the latest in a series of his brides taken for one night. If her marriage follows the pattern set by the dozens before, her life will end at dawn with a silk cord around her neck, and her family will be left to mourn her.
Shahrzad, however, is not like the ones that have come before her. Not only has she volunteered for the duty, but she plans to see the sunrise. Survive, and end the life of the 18 year old Caliph of Khorasan, in revenge for him taking the life of her best friend, Shiva, months before.
Her first night does not end in her death, as expected, as she tells the King a story to catch his interest, and leaves him with a cliffhangar, in exchange for one more night. She adds to the story the next night, again leaving an open ending.
What follows is predictable, in many ways, even if you are unfamiliar with the original. The evil king will meet his match in his new bride, and she will tame his heart. She wins over his spies and courtiers, and becomes a force to be reckoned with within the palace. But the familiarity ends there.
What is new to the story is the reason he takes the life of his brides. What is the source of his evil and hatred? The story looks at sacrifice and duty, strength and purpose, in an unexpected way.
The story is good. Renee Ahdieh is fantastic with her world building, the description and nuance are enough to make you taste the flavours of the meals the characters share, and the sights they see jump off the page.
I did, however, find the story rushed in places. Certain characters never developed, and some situations did not seem to flow properly. Tariq and Rehim came in and out of the story with no seeming direction. Days passed without any indication. Magic was present, but never really explained. Shahrzad’s character was uneven, and the romance between Shazi and Khalid seemed to just happen, not develop.
That aside, I liked it. When I picked it up, I did not realize it was book one of a series. And thank goodness it is, because the ending was incredibly unsatisfying. In the tradition of the classic, Ahdieh left a cliffhanger. I don’t necessarily need hearts and flowers and riding off into the rainbow/sunset together, but I do need an ending. Of course, now I have to wait for book two.
This is a good, fun read. It has romance and fantasy, it has sword fighting and action. Good for all teens who don’t mind a bit of death and magic in their romances.
The Wrath & The Dawn is published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.