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.
This book is a rather dark re-telling of One Thousand and One Nights. The boy-king Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, takes a new bride each night only to kill her by sunrise. The protagonist, Shahrzad, volunteers herself... not just to break the cycle of death, but to unravel the mystery of it, and to kill the Caliph to exact revenge.
Almost like Beauty and the Beast, this leaves room for a mushy Stockholm Syndrome hate-to-love relationship, but despite the complicated magic weaved into the tale, is far from.
“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.
“No.” His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”
Shazi, the MC's nickname, slowly finds herself falling for the Caliph, however this is not written or executed in a predictable manner, as it is well-paced and, unlike how many find the 'Beast', it is very easy to fall in love with Khalid, the Caliph, once you learn his story. She finds increasingly difficult to hate Khalid, and more importantly, kill him.
Now, in a book I, personally, like a strong protagonist - not necessarily in physical sort of way, but I like heroines who are fierce and rather unpredictable. Shahzrad, (sometimes Scheherazade), is a very fiery and silver-tongued girl. She shows a lot of grace and enchants Khalid with her clever plots in her story-telling in order to live one more night.
Other than the plot and endearing characters, I really love Renée Ahdieh’s writing style. She builds the world of The Wrath and the Dawn really well and her descriptions are very beautiful and charming. The writing itself is very lovely and flows in a magical fashion befitting the setting of the novel. Ahdieh has set the perfect tone with her descriptions and the dialogue was both thought provoking and witty a good portion of the time.
There is one reason that I rated this as 4 Stars (I was tempted to rate it as 3.5, but decided otherwise due to the points above) in lieu of all full 5. I didn't quite like the relationship between Shazi and Khalid. Don't get me wrong, I squealed hysterically in some adorable scenes but I just couldn't fathom how she simply forgot the murder's of the girls, including her best friend. I liked the scene when Khalid said, through his confession writing, Shiva, Shazi's friend, understood his torment, but Shazi didn't register this. Once the reason for the murders (as said in the synopsis - so not a spoiler) she just didn't care - that's impression I got. The reason for the acts certainly didn't justify why he deemed his life more important than a hundred - but I feel as though Shazi believed it did.
Because of this, I wasn’t completely sold on the romance. Whatever reasoning Khalid had, he was still a murderer. Shahrzad’s intentions to avenge her friend’s death, were, in my opinion, completely justified, but then she almost forgot about her guilt. It was impossible to forget that and, even when they were falling in love, they were both still guarded with secrets. I did get sold on the friendships. They were great. From the newness of Shahrzad and her handmaiden Despina, to older friendships like Khalid and his cousin Jalal, or Tariq and Rahim who knew Shahrzad before she became queen.
Marie Lu describes The Wrath and The Dawn as "an intoxicating gem of a story" on the cover. Though it doesn't feel good to copy this, I don't think I can express my opinion on this book in other different way. Can't wait for book #2!