Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in The Wrath and the Dawn series
Release date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
Length: 304 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW15
Rating: In my top five reads of the year. Romantic, magical, dark, and dangerous. ALL THE THINGS.
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
You. GUYS. THIS BOOK. IT'S JUST...
I've been looking forward to it so much that I basically (gently, kindly, respectfully) harassed a very generous Penguin booth official at ALA Midwinter for an ARC of this, because I knew I had to have a twisted, magical, romantic retelling of 1001 Nights in my life. The cover, the concept, the everything of it-- I had to have it. I brought the book with me to vacation in Mexico and let my friend Christina read it. When she started gasping and whimpering and squeeing at about...oh, I don't know, page thirty or so, I realized I was going to have to start it the moment she finished.
I was obsessed with this book.
Legit. obsessed. I couldn't think about anything else while I was reading it but Shazi's brilliance and K H A L I D and bashing Tariq in the head and Despina bromance and the gorgeous writing and Jalal's perfection and THE MAGIC WHAT DOES IT MEAN and the lush, intoxicating language and the sumptuous setting and the immersion of the world and how much I was going to swoon, SWOON, when the ship got burning. And oh. DID I SWOON.
I've had a reallllly good streak of reads, so you're probably sick of me being so positive all the time, but The Wrath & the Dawn is by far one of my favorite reads of the whole year, and I'll be saying the same by the time December rolls around. I preordered two copies, one to give away as a gift, one to cuddle for all eternity. I should buy a third to intermittently toss at strangers on the street. NO. I SHOULD BECOME A TWatD STREET PREACHER.
"HELLO! CAN I INTEREST YOU IN THE GOOD BOOK FEATURING YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR SHAHRZAD AL-KHAYZURAN?" "OPEN YOUR SOUL TO THE WORD OF KHALID, CALIPH OF KHORASAN!"
Don't think I won't do it.
So why am I so bananas about this book? I suppose it all starts with our ferocious heroine, Shahrzad. She is bold, brave, and brilliant. She is ALL OF THE THINGS. I worship the ground she walks on.
|Shazi is BOMB, okay|
Her best friend, Shiva, was a victim of the murderous boy king, Khalid, who for an unknown reason marries a new bride every day and kills her at every dawn. When Shiva dies, Shazi volunteers herself as Khalid's new bride, determined to avenge her friend. She, per the synopsis, "uses her wit and charm to stay alive", weaving stories for the Caliph that are so vibrant--and without endings--that he has no choice but to keep her alive. Like the Dread Pirate Roberts, he tells her he'll most like kill her in the morning. But of course, thinggggs don't go as plaaaaaanned.
Ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship
I'm making this keening, moaning sort of sound just thinking about it and I don't know how to talk about it without spoilers but know I'm just completely obsessed. Sometimes Christina and I gchat each other and we're just like "SHAZI SHAZI SHAZI AND KHALID SHALID KHAZI" and then we scream and our pets judge us.
Quotey, shippy goodness:
"I believe I'll leave this set of goods on the rack, as well. I have no interest in...tiny cucumbers."
(Not shippy but proof that Shahrzad is a master sassafras. I ADORE THIS GIRL. She could CONQUER THE WORLD WITH JUST HER WILL.
She was a dangerous, dangerous girl. A plague. A Mountain of Adamant who tore the iron from ships, sinking them to their watery grave without a second though. With a mere smile and a wrinkle of her nose.
I want to be Shahrzad al-Khayzuran when I grow up
For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could compare to the wonder of you.
"I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm."
"Shahrzad al-Khayzuran!" The muscles in his jaw constricted. "You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure."
"You honestly expect me to breathe in a world without air?"
And the one that makes me clutch my chest and basically just collapse and turn to sand and tears and heart eyes:
My soul sees its equal in you.
But to me, this book was magic, without even having the much magic in it (BOOK TWO PROMISES MUCH AWESOMENSS ON THAT FRONT, THOUGH). I was completely enthralled by just... everything. I was completely enchanted by this jewel of a book. The rich descriptions of the food had me drooling. The descriptions of the clothes and setting gave me serious wardrobe envy and wanderlust, but I felt like I was there, wearing it.
Okay, so obviously coherency left the blog building a while ago, and this is getting long and the number of CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS are probably starting to blend together, so I'll wrap it up.
Most of all, the characters enraptured me. Their darkness, their powerful love, the betrayal and trust and emotions and mess of complications they find themselves in. I would follow Shazi and Khalid to the ends of the earth. Shazi is a blazing, fearless heroine with a keen sense of manipulation and determination but with a reluctant heart that is far more vulnerable than she wishes. There's her handmaiden, Despina, who has her own strengths and backstory. Khalid's cousin, Jalal, who is a positive delight. Shazi's father, who has his own role to play, and the Rajput, and Tariq, Shazi's first love who, though he is by far my least favorite character, also plays a part significant to Shazi's development.
And then there's Khalid, who I can't talk about, except to say Khalid. Khalid. KHALID. My beautiful monster. He's actually completely terrible, and does absolute terrible things, but
Like I said on Goodreads, I have much wrath that I will have to wait many dawns for the sequel.
And now I shall stare emo-ly at Khorasan/The Rose and the Dagger, so very very far in the distance. *sob*