Friday, 17 July 2015

Review: The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Publication Date: May 12th 2015
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Length: 388 pages

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 had heard so many amazing things about this book before I started, and they were all absolutely true. This book was fantastic – certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The writing is gorgeous, this is a masterclass in world-building and stunning prose. I fell in love with the writing from the first page and tried to draw out my time reading over as many days as possible to prolong my time spent between these pages. It is quiet and dreamy, dramatic and full of fire, filled with gorgeous moments and descriptions as Ahdieh brings to life this story filled with exquisite depths.

At its heart is Shazi, a fiery, flawed and intelligent heroine. I couldn’t help but love her, to feel for her as she tries to reconcile the warring parts of her heart. The guilt and love and hurt all lingering and twisting into this complex thing. She is a wonderful heroine to persuade the reader to invest in the story, to draw them into her vibrant and determined world as she attempts to stay alive and unravel the mystery.

I loved the relationships interwoven in the narrative, Despina and Shazi, Shazi and Khalid, Kahlid and Jalal. They are complex and raw and filled with desperation and love as well as lighter moments and humour. Despina particularly infuses all of her scenes with a much needed lightness and I adored the friendship that grows between the two girls independent of any love interests.

The world-building is fantastic. I felt as though I were there, everything from the clothes to the food to the silk cushions and curtains, the dawn light gilding the blades of grass and the perfect heady perfume of the roses. The novel is laid out in glorious detail, a feast for the senses.

One thing guaranteed to make me fall head over heels in love with a book is when things aren’t spelled out piecemeal to the reader. If the book is set in a particular culture with characters that have grown up with names and customs and sayings then it’s completely ridiculous for the narrative to pause whilst whatever it is is being explained to the reader so they can keep up. So when "The Wrath & the Dawn” gave me a glossary at the back of the book and expected me to keep up with the terminology, I practically swooned. It’s details like that that make the book such an immersive experience to read. I felt as though I were there, the descriptions were so vivid, the emotions so strong, the characters so life like.

The only element of this book that I really didn’t get along with was Tariq, he and I just didn’t hit it off. His scenes felt as though they slowed the rest of the story down and I resented any time away from Shazi – hardly surprising when you’ve got such a wonderful heroine as she. Add to that that he basically cannot explain why he needs to save her, that he feels that it’s wrong that she should do what she wants, that what she wants is wrong, and he was really getting on my bad side. He came across as possessive and naïve and irritating. I never felt a connection between him and Shazi, and his possessiveness really rankled. Yet despite my irritations with Tariq, this book is still incredible and gets a full five stars. It is a stunning book and a beautiful and fresh look at the tale of 1001 nights. If you’re after a sumptuously brilliant fantasy novel filled with gorgeous prose and incredible characters, what are you waiting for? Go and read this one now!


  1. OMG I LOVE THIS ONE TOOOO!!! *flails* My review is 100% squeaking and flailing, although I agree that Tariq was the weak link. I hated him. He was irritating and self involved an blahhhhh. Shazi is one of my new top favourite heroines, I think, and I LOVED Despina. :')
    Oh but *whispers* It isn't actually a debut. The author write a book called Fanfare in 2011. :)

    1. WHOOPS. Thank you for that, I slipped on that one... Have updated and removed all traces of idiocy... I NEED TO READ YOUR REVIEW NOW. I have been away from the interwebs all weekend and I am playing catch up, but I cannot WAIT to see what you thought! I'm so glad you loved it! MUPPET FLAILING.