The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Published in 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: YA fairytale retelling.

My rating:

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! :)

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  • I can see where you’re coming from with all of these criticisms, though I definitely enjoyed this book more than you, lol. That said, I haven’t read the sequel yet, and felt no need to rush out to do so, so I guess over time some of the high from reading this has also left me.

    • As I said, most people seemed to have enjoyed this a lot. I mean, it just pushed ALL my buttons, this happens sometimes.
      I think I’ll give the sequel a go anyway, it’s a duology so at least I’m not expected to read 4 sequels to finish the series!

  • Oooh, dear. Here’s hoping I get on with it a bit better!

    • Yeah, most people liked this one a lot. I mean, it just wasn’t for me. I hope you’ll enjoy it! :)

  • I felt very similarly about this one. I struggled with Shazi’s character too as well as Khalid. I was rooting for Tariq too but even he couldn’t make the book stand out for me. And I completely agree about the writing! It was definitely too much for me as well. I have considered giving book 2 a try, but ehh, I can’t find the motivation too.
    Sorry this was disappointing for you though. It always sucks when you can’t enjoy a book. :/

    • Okay, I’m glad I’m not the only one because I just don’t get the hype surrounding this one. It seems you either love it or you don’t – but that’s true with most hyped-up books. I just wanted to love it so much! Eh.

  • I get your criticisms, I do. I mean, when you point them out I’m like ‘yes, that was annoying wasn’t it?’ but I still can’t help but like the series. I saw more pet peeves in the second book really. I want say what or why or when but I did get annoyed by a few things which sort of dimmed my love for this first book. I think what I really enjoyed (despite the obvious romance) was the different culture and the clothing and the descriptions of things and that it was it’s own distinct culture that wasn’t westernised or anything. I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of Tariq, but then my opinion might me jaded by the fact I read the two books and knew he made these decisions for Shazi towards the end of the first book.

    I would say give the next book a chance but then if you didn’t love the first you may not like the second either. I did have a favourite character who appeared in the second book, though. That did a lot to redeem the second book for me.

    • I didn’t mean to convince anyone that this series was bad. It just pushed all my buttons and I really, really wanted to love it (because the premise is amazing) and then it just fell flat.

      Yeah, I liked the fact that the setting wasn’t your typical European medieval fantasy, too.

      Okay, another character would shake things up a little. I still think I’ll be finishing this because it’s a duology, so it’s not such a huge time/money commitnent.

      • I get that you’ve just pointed out a few things I recognised as flaws but ignored in my enjoyment. I still like it regardless. No book is flawless otherwise why would bother reviewing?

        And why aren’t there more duologies out there in fantasy? I can only think of the Eon/Eona duology and that was one where I loved the first book and the second one ticked all my annoyances boxes. It’s like it was all set up to be good and then it dismantled all that good work in the second.

        • Well there’s the Six of Crows duology and I think Laini Taylor’s next one also just has two books planned. So maybe it’s becoming a thing? Oh, and Seraphina was also just two books, that was cool. I like the concept of duologies, it’s like standalones that make you want for more and deliver on that.

  • Wait, wait. She has a magic carpet and doesn’t USE it? Say no more. This book and I obviously aren’t meant to be. Thanks for the heads up! :)

    • I KNOW who does that?! Magical carpets are MADE for flying and she just makes it hover a couple of inches off the floor, then freaking ROLLS IT UP and says “okay, that’s good to know”. *headdesk* :)

      I don’t know if that’s a dealbreaker to be honest but if this doesn’t sound like your deal, I’d skip it for sure.

  • I actually really love this duology, but I will say that I think the author could have done more in developing the magical system. Even in the sequel, Shazi’s powers really don’t play as big a role as I had hoped. Appreciate a different perspective on this one!

    • Haha, then you’re a better person than me – I *hate* reading bad reviews for books that I loved! :) But yeah, this just wasn’t for me. I wanted to love it so much, what with all the hype, but didn’t.

      • I think I would feel differently if it was a book I rated five stars, but I know this one has its flaws. There are a few beloved books that I would not be happy about reading a negative review of. The whole time I’d be saying, “You’re wrong, what is wrong with you? Ugh, that’s not right at all.” Hopefully the next hyped book you pick up meets your expectations.

  • I liked this one more than you did, but definitely not as much as most people seemed to. I really had a problem with the romance at first too – it seemed so illogical that Shazi’s strategy to survive was to tell Khalid stories. And the fact that it worked was almost nonsensical. By the end of the book, I was better with the romance, but it took me a long time to get there.

    • Yep, the strategy Shazi employed was absurd. I know the original 1001 Nights has this plot but I think literature (and fantasy) has evolved so we now expect plots to actually make sense, regardless of the inspiration.

      • Yes, at the very least, she could have somehow shown that Shazi knew about how his mother told him stories–that would have shown that she had some plan in mind and some reason to think it would work. SOMETHING. As it was, it was just kind of absurd.

  • “…but then I decided that I wanted to rant a bit…”

    I can tell I’m going to enjoy this review already. I was so deeply offended by this book, every negative review I’ve found (which amounts to approximately four) has been like a balm for my infuriated soul. 😃

    Aw, congratulations on the birth of your son! I hope you and he are both doing well, and you’re getting enough sleep to feel human, etc.

    Yep, quite a balm-ish review. I was nodding along with everything you pointed out; all excellent points, and well said.

    It’s awful to find a book you fully expect to love, only to discover it pushes all the wrong buttons for you. Hopefully you followed this book up with a significantly more enjoyable one! That said, I’ll quietly be looking forward to your review of The Rose and the Dagger, if you do ever get around to picking it up.

    • I wasn’t really drawn to this book when it first came out, but then EVERYONE loved it, so I had to give it a try. I’m a sucker for hyped-up books, though I often end up hating them.

      Every time I think about reading the sequel, I find myself doing a little sneering lip-curl and then I go “naaah”. So unless I find it as a Kindle deal or something, chances are I’m going to buy about a hundred other books first.

      And thank you! The baby is doing great and so am I, even though sleep deprivation is definitely hard. But we’ll get through it and I’m happy, so that’s enough. :)