THIS BOOK IS A BILLION PERCENT INCREDIBLE AND AJKLFDSAQTQEQQZXQQJKLQ. Words?! WHAT WORDS. I’m just absolutely dancing from the proverbial rooftops with joy that I fell in love with this book. I’ve had such a slack year for reading. All my highly anticipated reads have splattered like mayonnaise on the wall. But this?! The hype is completely justified. It’s beautiful and visual and delicious (seriously, so much delicious food) and the characters were absolute perfection. I cannot right now. I CANNOT. I AM JUST SO HAPPY I LOVED IT SO MUCH.
Okay, but let’s scroll backwards a little and let me tell you how I have history with this tale.
When I was 12 I was obsessed with Shadow Spinner. It was the book of my LIFE. I reread it nine trillion times and swore to myself I would write a retelling of Shahrazad one day. THEN I SAW THE WRATH AND THE DAWN WAS COMING OUT. I was half disappointed (dang, I missed my opportunity) and half elated because I GET TO RELIVE MY CHILDHOOD LOVE. I’m so so happy and grateful The Wrath and The Dawn stuck to the original story — but with beautiful embellishments and a more YA tone (Shadow Spinner is, obviously, a children’s book).
My expectations were catastrophically high: AND I WAS NOT LET DOWN.
So it’s a fantasy, with a pinch of magic, and a lot of Persian culture. I love this. I ADORE THIS. I kind of wished it had been an historical fantasy, but the magic was very subtle and while it impacted the finale, it wasn’t like “OH SUDDENLY WE CAN POOF GENIES OUT OF LAMPS.” Although there was hints of a magic carpet?! I really hope they do something fantastic with that.
But omg, the food! THE FOOD. I love books that use food to its full glory. It adds culture and it’s freaking delicious to read about. I nearly died of starvation just reading the foodie descriptions. Basically this book gets a whole extra star for FOOD.
…setting plates of food in front of each guest — aromatic rice with fresh dill and split fava beans, lamb simmered in sauce of turmeric and caramelised onions, skewers of chicken and roasted tomatoes, fresh vegetables garnished with mint and chopped parsley, olives marinated in fine oil, lavash bread with rounds of goat cheese and seemingly endless sweet preserves…(pg 252)
Excuse me while I die. This is beautiful.
The writing was beautiful and brilliant. It was sharp and edgy. Every word MATTERED. And the sentences were short and biting. When it used detailed description, it went for words that packed a punch. AFJDKL EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL. It’s also narrated by a LOT of people. I loved this. I love fantasy that comes from more than one POV. The most important one, obviously, is Shahrzad’s. But we get to see from Khalid (the monster boy-king) from Jalal (his cousin) and from Tariq (the childhood sweetheart) and even the father (who possibly is insane, jury’s out). I liked how this rounded out the story.
And a quick peek at the characters?! Because I am in love with them. IN LOVE. I SHIP MY SHIP SO HARD I MIGHT EXPLODE.
- Shahrzad: She was so small and sassy and had a big mouth and a sharp wit. I LOVED HER. She reminded me of Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass but with less viciousness. Shahrzad could be sweet…if she wanted to. BUT HER SPUNK. She was a billion percent awesome.
- Khalid: Ah, the monster-boy-king. So, since he kills a girl every night, he’s got to be EVIL, right?!! WELL. I figured there’d be more to that story than meets the eye. I figured there’d be a horrifying truth behind what he does. And I was basically right. So I got on Khalid’s side pretty fast…because omg, he’s adorable. He’s angry and violent BUT ADORABLE. He’s unwanted and he’s been abused as a child. I ship him and Shahrzad so so hard I possibly might explode.
- Jalal: He’s Khalid’s cousin and next commander-of-the-guard. He was sort of smooth and slick and sassy, and his relationship with Khalid was “I WANNA BE FRIENDS” while Khalid is like “GET AWAY FROM ME I AM A MEANIE”. So they were adorable. Everything is adorable, dangit.
- Depsina: I LOVE HER MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY. She’s the handmaiden, and so sassy. She’s also plump and downright gorgeous and can do her makeup like a dream and has a mega crush on Jalal. Qjfadsklqouqqqq I love her. She gives Shahrzad so. much. lip. It’s amazing and their friendship is one of my favourite things.
- Tariq: UGH I HATE TARIQ. I was terrified when he was introduced and started his campaign to get Shahrzad back because I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES WITH A FIERY PASSION. So there is sort of a triangle, but Shahrzad doesn’t spend the entire book trying to choose between two boys. But Tariq was brash and violent and didn’t ever LISTEN. He didn’t even care what Shahrzad wanted, just that he wanted her. That ain’t love. But I adore how the book calls him out on this:
“Why do you love her?”
“Because –” Tariq rubbed at the back of his neck. “All of my most cherished memories are of her. I’ve suffered alongside her. And…we’ve laughed at nothing together.”
Omar’s hand fell from Tariq’s shoulder. “A shared history does not entitle you to a future, my friend.”
Bless the ground Omar stands on. HE IS A WISE MORTAL.
OH OH BEFORE YOU RUN OFF SCREAMING TO (undoubtedly) BUY THIS BOOK, LET ME TALK ABOUT THE STORY ASPECT. As you (might) know, the original tale of Shahrazad is about a girl who is married to a Sultan who slays his bride every night. But Shahrazad tells a story and it lasts past the dawn and then she leaves it at a cliffhanger. SO. To hear the rest, the sultan must spare her life. OKAY SO THE WRATH AND THE DAWN TOTALLY DID THIS! YAY! But possibly my only squinty-ness is because there isn’t that much emphasis on the stories. It’s in the first 50% of the book, and then fades to nothing. This saddens me. But there WERE stories, so I won’t complain too much.
And the romance?! IT WAS PERFECT. I HAVE EXACTLY ZERO COMPLAINTS BECAUSE IT’S GORGEOUS AND BEAUTIFUL. AND I SHIP IT SO HARD. It was a slow attraction and it was so sweet, and Khalid was just bursting with these absolutely incredible soliloquies at the end. Omg. There goes my feels.
Basically it is the most perfect book in the universe. It was everything I wanted. The writing was DELICIOUS. And the characters all stole my heart and I would read nine thousand books about them. Persian fantasies are something I absolutely crave. AND THEN THERE WAS ALL THAT GOOD FOOD. So if you’re torn about trying this: JUST READ IT. THERE IS NO OTHER ANSWER.
Khalid had to answer for such vile deeds. Such rampant deaths.
Even if he was her air.
Even if she loved him beyond words.
I ACTUALLY BOUGHT THIS BOOK MYSELF WITH MY OWN HARD EARNED DRAGON COINS. GO ME. I usually library or get ARCs. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was published in May, 2015.
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.