Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle, 3859 KB, 416 pages
In a land ruled by a murdering madman for a king that executes his wives every dawn, there is one girl, Shahrzad, who seeks to end these pointless murders and avenge the death of her best friend by slaying the young king, Khalid. Shahrzad enters the palace as another of the kings ill fated wives and immediately marks herself as different by not only surviving the first dawn, but every dawn after by enchanting the boy king with her stories and her beauty.
As Shahrzad spends more time with Khalid she finds herself committing an unthinkable act: falling in love with the man who executed her best friend. The imagined monster of a man is not the reality of Khalid and as she falls deeper in love with this mysterious boy she becomes more driven to find out the real reason that Khalid has been executing his wives every morning. Although she hopes to uncover a secret that can redeem the man that she loves, Shahrzad stands at the ready to avenge her friend’s, and countless others’, death. Will the mystery be enough to redeem a man with so much blood on his hands? Will Shahrzad and Khalid’s love flourish or come to a bloody end?
Quick and Dirty:
A retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights with a fierce and fearless protagonist faced with a choice between vengeance and love.
“It would not be a welcome dawn.”
Although this book starts with the line “It would not be a welcome dawn”, the book itself is a welcome breath of fresh air in the world oy young adult literature. The narrator of The Wrath and the Dawn is a contender on her own without needing anyone by her side. In the opening of the book we first meet Shahrzad as she makes the decision to strike out on her own against the king that everyone called monster, madman, and murderer. As a character Shahrzad is unique within the young adult literature cannon as she has found a way to not only change the horrid circumstances that her world is built upon, but love at the same time without letting that love rule her.
Speaking of love, this book does technically include the oh-so-common love triangle that seems to be a requirement in young adult books now, but the love triangle is done in a way that it does not dominate the book. The author does a very good job of making it clear who the protagonist really loves early in the book, which allows the protagonist to focus on her mission. The other byproduct of making the decision early is that we still get the teen angsty sting of rejection and all the drama and emotions that comes from those feelings from the perspective of the spurned lover.
Of course none of this would have been achieved without the author’s choice to write this book in the third person. By using this technique the reader was able to see not only the big picture, but inside the hearts and minds of all the main players. They felt the love that Shahrzad and Khalid shared, the vengeance that Tariq sought, and the suffering that Khalid endured. The author also did an admirable job of creating characters that seemed to always know the right things to say at the right times. What teenage girl would not want a boy to tell her, “You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure”.
All in all this retelling and reimagining of a classic tale stands on its own as a compelling, enchanting, and moving book that houses characters beyond imagination.
“You once lamented the fact that the characters in my stories place so much value on love.”
Khalid returned her penetrating stare in silence.
“Why is that?” she continued. “What is your aversion to the sentiment?”
His eyes flickered across her face before responding. “It’s not an aversion. It’s merely an observation. That word is used too often for my taste. So I attribute it to things, rather than to people.”
Khalid exhaled carefully. “People fall in and out of love with the rising and setting of the sun. Rather like a boy who loves the color green one day, only to discover on the morrow that he truly prefers blue.”
Shahrzad laughed, and the sound was lemon to her wound. “So you intend to go through life never loving anyone? Just… things?”
“No. I’m looking for something more.”
“More than love?”
“Is it not arrogant to think you deserve more, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid?”
“Is it arrogant to want something that doesn’t change with the wind? That doesn’t crumble at the first sign of adversity?”
“You want something that doesn’t exist. A figment of your imagination.”
“No. I want someone who sees beneath the surface-someone who completes the balance. An equal.”
“And how will you know when you’ve found this elusive someone?” Shahrzad retorted.
“I suspect she will be like air. Like knowing how to breathe.” He regarded her with the stillness of a hawk as he said these words, and Shahrzad’s throat went dry.
“Poetry,” she whispered. “Not reality.”
“My mother used to say that a man who can’t appreciate poetry lacks a soul.”
Shahrzad studied the tiny mountain of bread before her.
I will not feel sorry for you. You do not deserve my pity.
Guarding herself against a rising tide of emotion, she looked up again, resolute in her next course of action. “I-”
“I hurt you today.” He spoke softly, in a voice of soothing water water over scorched steel.
“It doesn’t matter.” Her cheeks flushed.
“It matters to me.”
Shahrzad exhaled in a huff of derision. “Then you shouldn’t have done it.”
Shahrzad stared at the cut glass angles of his profile. Even now, his handsome face gave no hint that her pain affected him in any way.
The boy of ice and stone…
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