Review: The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renée Ahdieh

 

Synopsis for The Wrath and the Dawn:

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 NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

 

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Y’all have heard me talk about how much I absolutely love with The Wrath and the Dawn, the first book in this beautiful series by Renée Ahdieh.

First of all, when deciding to dive into this series, I was drawn by its plot. A mad, evil king who kills his brides? Sign me up. I wanted to fall in love with characters who were incredibly complex and three dimensional, and this book definitely gave me that. I fell in love with Khalid with his brutish harshness and gentle kindness. While I didn’t like Tariq in the first book, I really grew to like and respect him in the sequel because we get to see his motivations and understand his reasonings.

Also, I adored the fact that Ahdieh provided us with such magnificent female characters. Shazi, Irsa, and Despina were so powerfully written that I was in awe of them. They didn’t shy away from their duties, but embraced them. But they were more than just the “strong female protagonist” trope (if that’s what you want to call it.)

These female characters were allowed to delve deep into their emotions, and I, personally, feel that we don’t get to see that often enough. When you have strong females, sometimes authors risk losing that feminine, emotional side in order to pursue the strength of that character. That typically leaves the reader feeling like emotions are weakness, which they are not. Ahdieh takes the trope of the “strong female protagonist” and makes it more human.

Another thing that was amazing was the fairytale retelling aspect of it. This story, if you didn’t know, is based off of A Thousand and One Nights. I WANT MORE OF THIS. Give me more retellings of classical literature! But not just classic lit, but classic lit that is diverse and not wholly Euro-centric. I want more stories like The Wrath and the Dawn because it gives me the hope that, despite many people’s insistence, diverse YA books have the ability to be wildly popular if people just take the chance on them.

It was such a refreshing thing to read compared to a lot of fantasy series that I have read. Its characters reminded me how much we need more diverse books. The writing was absolutely phenomenal, creating a landscape and a story that is laced with powerful dynamics and a sort of beautiful sadness.

In Short:

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The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger made me feel so many emotions that I hadn’t felt in a long time while reading YA novels.

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