This book made my heart sing. I loved the way it took me to an enchanted place far away.
Shahrzad’s best friend is the latest amongst a line of beautiful brides to die — murdered by the Caliph at dawn on the morning after her wedding day, just like every other bride he has had. Pissed as fuck, she volunteers to be his next bride, determined to stay alive and get her revenge. And stay alive she does, beguiling him with a captivating story that continues each night. But the Caliph is more than he seems and has secrets of his own that she becomes determined to uncover.
Does this all sound familiar? The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, but really it is much more than that. It’s a captivating story of two very strong personalities in what seems like an enchanted but desolate land, learning about themselves and each other while trying to fight against, well, unexpected odds.
I loved the characterisation — the secondary characters are well fleshed out and endearing, and you really can’t hate anyone. Ahdieh does a good job of presenting each character’s motivations and potential, and sometimes you can’t blame most of them for their actions, no matter what they are. There’s also no clear case of good vs bad — probably more of a ‘things you do for love’ kind of thing. And yes, there is a love triangle. Ordinarily I hate that, but I felt that there was so much more behind their motivations that it didn’t even bother me.
Technically, this is a young adult novel. I did, however, have trouble believing they were that young: she is 16; he is 18. While there were situations where her naiveté was more suited to her age, both their maturity and experiences seemed to indicate an older age. (For example, both their skills with weapons seem to indicate they’ve been around longer given their experience and expertise.) That said, I let myself get swept away in the romance and the storytelling, and didn’t actually think much of it until I finished reading and started to analyse, so it didn’t bother me all that much.
I loved the interactions between the characters, the wit, the humour, the relationships and intrigue and how there is so much more that can happen. Bring on the sequel!
Content advisory: There’s a sequel!
You can find an extract of the book here. Published by Penguin Random House.