The Wrath & The Dawn – Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
This was an unexpectedly phenomenal book and I’m so glad I’ve now read it. I’d heard the book being thrown around here and there but wasn’t aware how well received it actually was! Ahdieh is a very skilled writer; the writing was an absolute dream to follow and it really helped in creating such a rich, cultural atmosphere. Admittedly, some of the language was too difficult to understand which was something I was going to criticise until I realised there was a glossary in a back (rookie mistake, am I right?!).
The story is about Shahrzad, a young girl who falls into the hands of a Khalid (the caliph or king of Khorasan) who is known to wed wives in the evening and murder them at dawn. When Shahrzad’s best friend, Shiva, becomes one of his victims, she volunteers to spy on Khalid, discover his motives as his next wife and report back to her lover, Tariq who will help to take him down.
From the very beginning, the story is ridden with mystery. Shahrzad is determined to remain focused on the task but as the plot thickens, she begins to discover that Khalid is more than the evil beast that meets the eye, he has a secret (and if you’re not aware of the story A Thousand and One Nights, like me, then you won’t expect it! I was shocked!). Shahrzad starts to fall for Khalid and becomes torn between giving into her emotions and doing what she set out to do.
Shahrzad was a very independent and inspirational protagonist, Ahdieh did an excellent job at getting across how truly troubled she was feeling. She’s also incredibly intelligent, the way she manipulated the caliph to let her live another day by failing to finish a tale that she had him lusting for was a wise and crafty plan. I was, obviously, very suspicious of Khalid from the start but as the story progressed, he becomes more human and slowly reveals a strong character behind a dark, unfortunate past therefore my opinion turned from hatred to pity. He’s alert and constantly on edge, becoming immediately suspicious of Tariq as soon as he entered the city for example, yet I learned to accept that he needed to be this way to survive what he did when he was young. A personal favourite character is Despina, Shahrzad’s handmaiden. She, too, was initially quite a rude character but it was truly lovely to see herself and Shahrzad form a close bond with one another as they were both presented with their individual problems.
Something I found particularly enlightening was the treatment of women in the novel. It was made clear that women were oppressed in this society, especially Shahrzad who was commonly perceived as an object and undermined as something of only beauty with no brains, and it was interesting to see the demeaning attitudes people have towards women in different cultures. The setting was also really lovely to read about and it was a very different experience immersing myself into a world in which I know nothing about.
A thoroughly good read, one I’d recommend to those interested in learning about different cultures in a different, fantastical way or really to anyone who likes a story of mystery with twists and turns! Cannot wait to see where the story leads in the sequel coming out this year!
– – – – – – – – POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Update – – – – – – – –
A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with ✓
A book based on a fairytale ✓
Happy Reading Bookworms!