Thursday, May 7, 2015

ARC Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Published: May 12, 2015 by (Penguin Group)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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

I was incredibly excited to win an ARC for The Wrath and the Dawn from Virginia Boecker on Twitter a few months ago. It sounded like an incredibly interesting fantasy and retelling. I completely devoured the book. It drew me in and took me for a ride with gorgeous writing, a thrilling plot, complex characters and themes.

What first drew me into this book was the writing. Everything about the prose of The Wrath and The Dawn is poetic. From the way the characters spoke, to the atmosphere, to the setting it was all infused with intentional beauty. Ahdieh's writing is descriptive in a way that immerses you into the world. There are so many descriptions of food, clothing, and locations. This may annoy some people but for me it helped to create the world. It's a world based on the Middle East and that culture was present throughout much of the book. And there was also a subtle magic in this world. And while I liked the brief view into the magic here I wanted more. It didn't really come into play until late in the book and I like magic to be a bigger part of the story than that. But that was sort of a trend in this book. Certain things were emphasized while others were downplayed, but not in the typical way. It was the kind of world-building that was show when it came from large details and tell when it came to small details but it worked. I could perfectly imagine the world and the beauty of it.

But despite all that beauty, the plot was full of mystery and suspense. The stakes here are incredibly high. We know our main character's days are number but we can't help but root for her to succeed in her goal for survival. I wouldn't say that it's an action-packed story, but it was definitely a suspenseful one. I flew through the last 100 pages worried about what was going to happen. However there were some things about the plot or narrative style that I didn't love. We do spend most of our time with Shazi but every once in awhile we would get a different perspective. It took a little getting used to. And I don't mean the stories within the story. No, those were great, they all seemed intentional and like they fit with the larger story. I mean when we were taken out of the palace to the group trying to free Shazi. It all ended up making sense in the end but at times it dragged the pacing down a little and took me out of the story. But that may have just been because I was loving Shazi's story so much and I saw her more as the heroine and her own savior. 

You see the feminist undertones in this book are very thinly veiled and it's amazing to see. A lot of that has to do with our main character, Sharzad or Shazi. She's the most complex and well-rounded female protagonists I have seen in a long time. I did a whole discussion post about how I prefer strong female protagonists who are not just all about fighting, women who are as strong emotionally as they are physically, and that that's exactly what I found in Shazi, She can hold her own in a battle, she's an excellent archer (side note, where are they always archers?), but she's also mentally and emotionally strong. But my favorite thing about her is that she's mouthy. She doesn't pull any punches and she stands up for herself. It doesn't matter who she's talking to, Shazi will get her feelings out even if they're not appropriate. But she's also vulnerable and uncertain. Her mouth gets her into trouble and her rash decisions get her into even more. But through it all she's relatable and likable and the perfect heroine for teen girls to root for. I didn't want Shazi to be a damsel in distress and I'm glad that she wasn't. 

I think what surprised me most about this book was how much I liked the romance. I have not read any historical romances but I imagine this is what they are like. It was a sweeping tale of love against all odds in an exotic location in a world that harkens to the past. And yes, there is a love triangle but dare I say, it works. The choice between the two is only hard for Shazi to make because it's deciding between her past and her future. She knows what her heart wants but it's hard to let go. The romance was also a fantastic slowburn with a male lead that was a little dangerous and a lot mysterious. I'm not the kind of girl that appreciates the good girl loves a bad boy with a heart of gold trope but again it worked. Ahdieh made a believer out of me. She made me see how sweet and romantic Khalid could be despite him starting out as a villain. As he grew to love Shazi as an equal, I grew to love him as a character. It was a very pleasant surprise.

A lot of The Wrath and the Dawn was a pleasant surprise. It was a book with a captivating world, complex characters, fantastic feminist themes, and a romance that I adored. It was a quick and engaging read that desperately has me wanting more. I now officially cannot wait for more. When does The Rose and The Dagger come out? Get me my time machine!

I give The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh a 9 out of 10 

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of YA fantasies and are looking for one that is heavy on the romance with some subtle magic, you must check this one out. It's an engaging and interesting read I would recommend to lovers of the genre and those who are trying to explore fantasy a little bit more. An all around great read and another fantastic 2015 debut.


  1. Great review. I’ve been looking forward to this book for months. It sounds so interesting. I can’t wait to read it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Awesome!! So glad you loved this one! I really ended up enjoying it though I struggled a bit in the beginning. I really loved the descriptions too! I was unfamiliar with this region/influence so it was so helpful to have a really lush description.
    Also really wanted more of the magic BUT I can't wait to see where it goes in the second book!

  3. Oooooh nice!!!! I was curious about this one and that quickly turned into excited anticipation! Naturally, when I do get it, I have no idea when I'll get to read it! It seems every time I am close to finishing my review books, I get a few more. It's great and also devastating because I want to read SO many books I've bought these past months! This one sounds like it's going to be fantastic! Great review!!

  4. Congrats on the win btw!! Shazi sounds awesome~~ I'm so excited for all the feels :DD

  5. I am a big fab of YA fantasies, so I will be reading this one for sure.

  6. I am really excited for this one. Ughh I need it now!