The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is very aptly titled, both for the way you will feel at its conclusion, wrath, that you must wait almost a year for the second novel to be published and dawn, for the time you will finish reading this book when you pick it up the night before. To be serious, though, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous reimagining of The Arabian Nights that will leave you with the biggest book hangover you’ve had in a long time. You are going to want to linger in the world Renee Ahdieh created as long as humanly possible once you have finished this novel.
“All our lives are forfeit, sayyidi. It is just a question of when. And I would like one more day.”
The Kingdom of Khorosan is led by a brutal murderer, Khalid, who takes a new wife each night and by dawn, has his new bride executed. There is political unrest and rioting in the street as a result of such callous and cruel leadership. When Shahrzad’s best friend, Shiva, becomes one of Khalid’s victims, she swears revenge and volunteers to become his next bride to enact her plan. The first night, Shahrzad enthralls Khalid through her vivid storytelling and manages to beat the odds and keep herself alive. As more days pass and she sees more dawns, Shahrzad acclimates to palace life and finds that there is more to Khalid’s actions than anyone in the kingdom would suspect.
“Tell me why you’re here.” “Promise me you won’t kill me.”
This is a story of love and lies and secrets and sacrifice and survival and what each of those mean to an individual and how one small action piece can crumble an entire existence, or even an entire kingdom. Ahdieh accomplishes this most strongly through her lyrical writing and tells the story through alternating viewpoints, from Shahrzad (our heroine), Jahandar (Shahrzad’s father), Tariq (Shahrzad’s first love), and even the Khalid himself, although sparingly. Ahdieh’s writing is as exotic and beautiful as the places, things and people she describes in this novel. This story of sights and sounds, exploration of foreign worlds and things unknown and attempting to unravel secrets kept so tightly and securely, surely the world would fall apart should they ever be revealed. There is so much conflict and conflicted emotion hidden beneath the surface of this novel and Ahdieh makes it all so tragically beautiful.
The main aspect of this novel, the root of EVERYTHING, is the romance. It is so breathtakingly fragile and gorgeous that you will most definitely find yourself swooning at some of the passages. In fact, I cannot find the air to breathe to tell you more about the sweeping romance of this novel. You must simply find out more for yourself.
This novel ends leaving so many questions unanswered that I actually though pages were missing from my edition. Ahdieh owes us A LOT of answers in the next novel of this dulogy appropriately titled, The Rose & The Dagger, to be released July 15, 2016. In the meantime, sit and enjoy The Wrath & The Dawn. I promise you, you’ll keep coming back to it over and over again.