Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on May 12th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Retelling
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.
The hype for The Wrath and the Dawn took the YA book world by storm this year – and normally that kind of thing would scare me off. I mean, I almost held off on reading this for a while because of it, but then it became our book club pick. Boy am I glad I did not flake out this time. The Wrath and the Dawn is every bit as sumptuous and engrossing as everyone promised.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights – a folk tale I was not actually familiar with but grew to love. Khalid, the caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night but has her executed by dawn. Shahrzad volunteers to be his next victim… hoping to break the trend and stop his treachery. She tells him folk tales at night but leaves him with a gaping cliffhanger each time so that she’ll live to see the morning. Now, it’s kind of like Beauty and the Beast with even more of a hate-to-love romantic transition. Shahrzad has very few kind thoughts about Khalid before she takes her place as his bride, but while figuring him out and plotting ways to bring him down, he worms his way into her heart.
It should be noted, though, that this is far from a sappy or iffy Stockholm Syndrome romance. Shahrzad is way too freaking fierce for that. Oh man, it’s been such a long time since I met a main character that filled me with such glee. Shahrzad is smart, brave, calculating, and oh so graceful. I was in awe of her strength and grace, and I completely understood how Khalid would be so fascinated and impressed by her (after his initial suspicion). And he’s so mysterious and powerful that the two make an absolute dream couple – a perfect match. Their chemistry was OFF THE CHARTS. Oh man. This is one of my top ships of the year for sure.
Obviously, there’s a explanation as to why Khalid has been killing off his brides. This brings magic and politics into the story. Khalid struggles to keep his country under control, as the citizens are growing ever more disgruntled about losing their daughters – rightfully so. The stakes are high. Shahrzad’s own former betrothed takes up arms to rebel against Khalid, and so she is torn even more between her head and her heart. Yeah, it’s a love triangle – but it’s a good one. I totally understood Shahrzad’s dilemma and believed her to feel love for both guys (in different ways), and much as I didn’t care for Tariq, I understood his intense need to “rescue” her. (But seriously, he can exit stage right in book 2, plzkthnxbai.)
This book is beautifully written and excellently paced. All throughout the story the intensity grows – the romance between Shazi and Khalid, the rebellion against his rule, the mysteries of his past. I got completely swept up in it and just couldn’t stop reading. It’s honestly hard to believe that this is a debut. It just hit all the right notes: writing, characters, romance, world building, pacing, and plot. I adored this book from start to finish. Except that ending. That kind of cliffhanger should just NOT BE ALLOWED. *pouts*