Book Review: The Wrath & The Dawn Duology by Renée Ahdieh. A brooding king, forbidden love and magic curses.

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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The Wrath & The Dawn

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

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The Rose & The Dagger

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive

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“Destiny was for fools. Sharzad would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.”

The Wrath & The Dawn is very character driven. Shahrzad al-Khayzuran leaves her family, and childhood love, behind to volunteer as the new Caliph of Khorasan’s bride. The mad, evil boy-king has wed and killed over 70 wives, Shahrzad’s dearest friend included. Her heart full of hatred and bent on revenge, she vows to take the Caliph down. This book focuses on exploring the complexities of Shahrzad’s ever-growing conflictive feelings towards the enigmatic ruler as she tries to find the truth behind the senseless murders. Overall, I thought the plot  was truly entertaining, especially for fans of romance, with some light action sprinkled here and there. The true climax happens around 75% of the book, and leaves you itching to start the second book. I so loved the Aladdin undertones 

The Rose & The Dagger is certainly more plot-driven and action packed, focusing on the direct consequences of the events of the first book (impending war, lovers fighting to get back to each other’s side, broken family ties), with a lot more shocking twists and turns.

I believe the magic system in this world could’ve been explored more deeply. It felt a little brushed over and there were many questions left unanswered. This little detail doesn’t subtract much from the overall plot, but when I was over with the series I was left with an itching curiosity to know more about Shazi’s abilities. 

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“When I was a boy, my mother would tell me that one of the best things in life is the knowledge that our story isn’t over yet. Our story may have come to a close, but your story is still yet to be told. Make it a story worthy of you.”

Ahdieh’s writing is out of this world. She navigates as flawlessly through an action-packed fighting scene as she does through a swoon-worthy romantic one. Her storytelling is fantastic, taking you exactly where the story is.  Which brings me to the setting. I’ve never read an Arabian influenced book before so I was thrilled with this world Ahdieh created. The setting, the food, the clothes – the overall culture depicted in the book- is as much a character of the story and just as essential to it. It enriches it so beautifully! The imagery and Adhieh descriptions made me want to jump inside the book and tag along with Shahrzad in her journey

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I think what tied me most to this duology was its cast of characters. Ahdieh made sure they each had their own storyline and their own unique motivations instead of simply letting them be secondary characters to Shahrzad and Khalid’s story. All of them contributed to the plot and were key to its development in both books.

“This dangerous girl. This captivating beauty.
This destroyer of worlds and creator of wonder.”

I’ll admit I had a hard time connecting or empathising with the heroine. It was clear from the beginning she was a strong female lead but she could sometimes come off as selfish. However, I can accept that character flaw as it does seem to make her more human. As for the brooding love interest, he was a hard pill to swallow at first but BOY, DOES HE KNOW HIS WAY WITH WORDS.

“My soul sees its equal in you.”

Their romantic scenes are one of my favorites ever, largely due to the amazing chemistry the writer managed to create between them. I love that Ahdieh doesn’t justify Khalid’s misdeeds in any way, and instead has Shahrzad hold him accountable for it, loving him despite everything he may or may not have been responsible for.

“In the end, there is only time for love.”

As with almost all brooding book boyfriends, we learn just how much of a complex and deeply traumatized character he is and although it took a while at first, the reader learns to love him very much. 

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Check Out The Wrath & The Dawn Novellas…

 

xxx,

Yeli


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