The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Historical Retelling, Romance, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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.
The Wrath and the Dawn was slightly underwhelming. I’ve been to panels and heard sooo many fantastic things about this book and then I read it and I was left wondering what all the hype was about. Yes, the Shazi was powerful and sassy. Yes, Khalid was mysterious and enigmatic. Yes, its part of the beginning of a bubbling of diverse books. Yet, the magical element was off-putting and the plot dragged.
The characters are what made this novel stand out. Shazi is a firecracker. Her wit and her secret skills are so fascinating to discover and each time she revealed that she was awesome at yet another thing, I giggled. She’s similar to many other YA characters, but yet different. The voice behind the character seems genuine and life-like. It was refreshing in a YA world overrun by sassy, strong female leads. Khalid was another strong point. His past defines his present and his future, and at first he lets that happen. Then, he lets someone in finally and things actually happen (I’m tryin’ to keep this spoiler-free people). It sounds a little cliche, and maybe it is, but in this book, it felt right. The handmaiden was kickass and veritable in her own way. She was similar to Shazi with her quickfire comebacks and loud opinions, but Ahdieh managed to make them different. Their inner voices are different. And its amazing.
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The romance was the typical YA romance. Boy meets Girl. Girl irrevocably changes Boy. Boy becomes a better person. And I’m usually not bothered by this or even annoyed by its prevalence. Remaining true in The Wrath and the Dawn, this trope didn’t necessarily annoy me, but it slightly ruffled my feathers. But, it fit the characters so stinkin’ well that it complemented the book quite nicely.
However, I was not a fan of the magic. I know, I know. This is a retelling. But the magical element just didn’t sit well with me. I did not like the way it was introduced into the story. I understand that it was a mystery and Khalid’s deepest secret, but the delivery was lacking. It wasn’t the magic itself; the magic was fine and dandy. My main problem with the magic was its existence in this story, as the introduction did not allow it to fit.
Also, the plot could get a little draggy at points. This is understandable as we have to experience what Shazi does everyday to continue to win her spot in the palace. Yet, I found this to be boring at times and wished it would’ve been spiced up a little.
The Wrath and the Dawn was a character-based novel that was pleasantly enjoyable, with a few dings along the way.