Source: purchased for Kindle.
Genre: YA fairytale retelling.
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?
Lovely people, please be aware that this review will contain SPOILERS (like major spoilers, not just tiny unimportant ones), so if you haven’t read this book, you should probably stay away. Just sayin’. I wanted to write a normal review but then I decided that I wanted to rant a bit and I can’t do that without discussing some plot points that happen later in the book. Also, if you’re feeling very protective about this novel, you should probably skip this as well. I won’t be posting this to any of the usual sites like Goodreads, I don’t want to spread misery around, but this is my place and I think I can safely express my opinion here.
This was actually the first book I read after my son was born earlier this month, so I was a hormonal mess at the time, which – if you think about it – should make me more lenient in my criticism. But I just didn’t like this story that much. I know I’m a black sheep in this case, the majority of the reviews I’ve seen around the blogosphere were very favourable, so I’m guessing I had the misfortune of encountering a huge number of my pet peeves in a single book. Eh.
I tend to dislike a novel when I dislike the characters. And I just didn’t connect with Shahrzad like I was supposed to. The girl was forever crumbling to the floor, worrying about her dresses and makeup while in mortal danger, and making silly decisions. Let me just ask you something: if you found out you had a latent magical ability, would you calmly go about your business like nothing had happened? NO. You’d demand someone teach you how to use it, for fuck’s sake. Ditto with the magic carpet. How can you own a flying carpet and not give it a spin? The fact that she volunteered to become Khalid’s next wife and went in with the half-assed plan of telling him a story and killing him without a weapon also made me roll my eyes. As did the teensy problem that she fell in love with her would-be killer (Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?). See, it pushes my buttons, this story.
Then there’s the love triangle. The boys of this story, the Caliph (= king) Khalid and Tariq, Shazi’s childhood fancy/fiancé, were… bland. I was rooting for Tariq up until the moment when he decided that Shazi certainly couldn’t know her own damn mind and decided to remove her from the palace against her will. Khalid was so unsure about his decision to keep her alive that she nearly got choked to death before he changed his mind yet again and beat the guard who was charged with killing her – even though the guy was just doing his job. *sigh* Add the sexy girl from Khalid’s past and a heavy dose of jealousy on Shazi’s part and you get a nice picture of the romantic situation in that palace. Ugh.
I didn’t even like the writing. I’m sure it’s accomplished and all but it just seemed like too much. Okay, so I enjoyed reading about the food, especially since I was eating hospital food at the time (as I said, this was just after my kid was born), but the flowery language just didn’t do it for me.
Nevertheless, I’m still debating reading the sequel. First of all, it’s a duology, so I’m in no danger of tackling a six-part series, which is good. I also want to see if Shazi will step up and own her power – she might redeem herself yet. I don’t know. I wanted to like this story so badly, it has everything I usually want in a book, but the execution was just not for me. I’m in no rush to go and buy The Rose and the Dagger but I might pick it up at some point.
Have you read The Wrath and the Dawn? What did you think?
Will I have to defend myself against a hail of stones for my crappy review?
I’d love to hear from you! :)