The Wrath and the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016. 416 pgs. Young Adult
Shahrzad has one goal: to avenge her best friend Shiva by assassinating Khalid, the young Caliph of Khorasan. Though she knows Khalid kills each of his wives the morning after marrying them, she volunteers to become his next bride, hoping to get close enough to kill the monstrous king. Delaying her death by telling him stories until dawn, Shahrzad slowly uncovers Khalid’s secrets, learning to love him against her will. Be prepared for a cliffhanger ending, since The Wrath and the Dawn’s sequel, The Rose and the Dagger was recently released.
Though some things bothered me about The Wrath and the Dawn, I would still recommend it to fans of young adult retellings. Renee Ahdieh’s generally beautiful writing can be repetitive at times, especially in her constant descriptions of Khalid’s “tiger eyes” and Shahrzad’s clothing and elfin face. The initial romance between the two characters felt unexplained, given that Shazi begins to love Khalid without any explanation or apology for her friend’s murder. In spite of those complaints, I wanted to keep reading, and I plan to read the sequel. Ahdieh creates a well-developed world and introduces many aspects of Middle Eastern culture in an accessible way. I can also say that I would have loved this book as a teenager.
A warning to careful readers and parents that there are a few non-explicit sexual scenes and references throughout the novel.