The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn (#1)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 

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.

2 stars? 3.5 stars? 5 STARS?!?!

Fucked if I know. I’m…torn. So I guess I’ll leave this at three stars for now.

This book made me feel a lot of feels. But they were conflicting feels. On the one hand, this is a beautifully written, atmospheric 1001 Nights retelling rich with imagery. On the other hand, a lot of that gorgeous prose is dedicated to showing the reader, over and over again, how indecisive the female lead is.

You see, she’s chosen to marry the king out of vengeance. He married and killed her best friend, along with countless other young women, and she’s bent on putting an end to his bloody reign by sticking a knife in his chest. Or a sword in his gullet. Or by bludgeoning him over the head with a mace. Or by slipping a bit of poison into his…well, you get the picture.

That’s all well and good, if you actually CARRY OUT THE DEED. But our female lead doesn’t do that. Instead, she spends the first half of this book being a whiny, wishy-washy pain in the ass, failing to kill him even though she’s provided with multiple opportunities to do so.

All because he’s pretteh.


So was Stalin when he was a young man. It doesn’t make him any less of a murderous bastard.

I would have enjoyed her character so much more had she remained stalwart. Had she remained loyal to all those dead women and simply tried and failed to kill him. Repeatedly. Until she was forced to look past that pretty face and that cold facade to the troubled soul beneath. Because only in the latter half of this book do you begin to understand Shahrzad’s unfortunate attraction to him. Only then do you begin to wonder why he’s done the things that he has, and want, no, need to know the truth behind his actions.

Still…I’ll be reading the next one. The writing alone makes it worth it. Even if I spend the entirety of the second installment trapped in the same frustrated emotional state that I was forced to endure throughout this one.

And that should tell you something.

December 22, 2015