Review | The Wrath And The Dawn, Renee Ahdieh

Goodreads Synopsis

One Life to One 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?


Review

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After all of the hype and the buzz surrounding retellings at the moment, I was positively dying to get my mitts on that beautiful cover and dive into an exotic, sensual retelling of One Thousand And One Nights. I’m sorry to say this, but I just don’t get the hype. Not even a little bit. Nuh uh. For me, this was one big, fat, bejewelled disappointment.

Brace yourselves kids, because this is not going to be pretty.

If there was one thing that I quite liked about TWATD, it was the writing. Ahdieh’s prose is lush and descriptive, and despite a tiresome need to tell the reader what colour tikka every male character was wearing at any given time, I liked the richness that her style bought to the story. It was obvious how much research had gone into ensuring the authentic descriptions of weapons, clothes and food and although I felt like there were several info dumps along the way, I appreciated the diversity of the setting. I also quite enjoyed the stories that Shahrzad told Khalid, but probably because it was the only time that I wasn’t annoyed by the complete nonsense that kept coming out of her mouth.

Speaking of Shazi, she’s supposed to be a beguiling enchantress, who catches the monstrous Caliph of Khorasan off guard with her talent for storytelling, allowing her to live to see another dawn. To be honest, I don’t understand why he didn’t want to kill her right from the off, because she was about as petulant, indecisive and shallow a protagonist as I’ve ever come across. I wanted to read about a spirited character torn between loyalty to her dead best friend and burgeoning feelings for a boy who is not what anyone thinks. Instead of inner conflict and emotional impact, we get a wishy-washy child who spends 50% of her time deciding not to kill the king and the other 50% having inner proclamations of murderous revenge. Eventually even the random outbursts of inner rage fade, because guess what? The tiger-eyed boy king is pretty. Seriously. GIRL, what happened to your conviction? What about the hundreds of dead women which include your best friend, for Christ’s sake? Did your brain melt in the Arabian heat and leak out of your ears until it was nothing more than a puddle on the floor? Because if I had to guess, that’s what I would say happened.

Enter the Caliph, who is supposed to be a tortured, burdened ruler who hides his emotions behind impenetrable barriers. He should be a character full of mystery and depth, but he was probably the most uninteresting YA boyfriend since Jacob Black. Also, lets get something straight: he’s not a cheeky bad boy, he’s a murderer. He might have committed atrocities for reasons which he believes to be right, but that does not make him an eligible bachelor. He’s killed hundreds of women to protect his secret and yet within a matter of days he’s suddenly damn-the-consequences-head-over-heels-in-love? A reformed man with no desire to protect himself any longer? I could almost start to believe the drastic change if there was any reasoning given to explain why Shazi is so different, but all it took for them to become soulmates was some lacklustre storytelling and one trip to the market.

If only the others knew it was that easy, eh!

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Ahdieh tries so hard to convince the reader of the connection between Khalid and Shazi, but she just didn’t spend enough time developing them as individual characters or a pairing. The fact that their vomit inducing love appears out of thin air as if conjured by Aladdin’s genie aside, it also portrays an utterly unhealthy ideal. I’m confused by what the intended message of their relationship, and essentially the book, is supposed to be. Perhaps that angsty dudes who are okay with non-consensual wedding night sex have hidden depths full of flowers and rainbows that will be revealed if you hang long enough? That it’s desirable to be in a relationship with someone who lies and hides things from you AND is also prone to random spells of violence? That to find love, you should give up what you believe in and apologise for calling out someone on their bad behaviour? Young girls all over the world are reading this book and chalking up Khalid as their new book boyfriend, and I don’t think that’s okay.

The creepy romance also masks that fact that basically nothing happens in this book. In fact, I think if Ahdieh wrote in a less descriptive style, the book would have been about 25% shorter. The occasional introduction of elements that seemed like promising plot points (e.g. the magic carpet) were never actually developed and the reveal of Khalid’s secret lacked any real depth or shock factor for Shazi or the reader. I almost feel like this would have been a much better book with more believable characters if Ahdieh had used the first installment to lay the groundwork for Shazi and Khalid’s relationship, before moving onto the implications and ramifications in a second novel.

I was so ready for this to be my next book crush, but in all honestly, the only time that I got even a little bit hot under the collar was when the food was being described. I’ll take the delicious sounding bread pls, but I’m more than happy for you to keep the next instalment in the bizarre and boring lives of Shazi and Khalid. Soz.


In Summary…

  • Author: Renee Ahdieh
  • Release Date: 12th May 2015
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
  • Pages: 395
  • Rating: 2.5/5
  • In short: Pretty outfits and exotic settings disguise non-existent plot and utterly creepy romance.

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28 thoughts on “Review | The Wrath And The Dawn, Renee Ahdieh

  1. YES. I was waiting for you to review this!! Everything you’ve said is perfect. You know exactly how I felt about this book, and I’m SO glad I’m not alone on this. “To be honest, I don’t understand why he didn’t want to kill her right from the off, because she was about as petulant, indecisive and shallow a protagonist as I’ve ever come across. ” My thoughts exactly. Couldn’t have said it any better.

    “Did your brain melt in the Arabian heat and leak out of your ears until it was nothing more than a puddle on the floor? Because if I had to guess, that’s what I would say happened.” I’m seriously clapping over here. And laughing a lot.
    This is a great review Sammie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Literally you’re the only other person I’ve spoken to who feels the same, I’m all for everyone having their own opinions but I just don’t get it at all when it comes to this one! I spent a good proportion of my evening scrolling through hundreds of 5 star ratings on GR haha. Ahhh thanks so much, Fatima – I’m glad it didn’t disappoint and that I gave you a laugh. 😁💖 Unpopular opinion high five!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “[…] the only time that I got even a little bit hot under the collar was when the food was being described.”

    THIS.

    Your review is PERFECT. I especially love your guesses as to the book’s message about romance. They’re all on-point, and they’re all horrifying. I’m always baffled and ragey when I see readers fawning over Khalid, because he is approximately 100% NOPE. Ugh.

    Thanks for this review! Seeing someone else shares my opinion has totally made my day. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha! Genuinely, the food sounded AWESOME. 🐷

      Ah thank you so, so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed it because I thought your review was absolutely brilliant: a really well written critique of basically everything I thought but am not quite articulate enough to say as well. 😂 I totally burst out laughing when you mentioned Tariq’s stallion and his massive hooves. Dying!

      I agree, as far as unhealthy YA book relationships go, this struck me as one of the worst – tiger eyes or no tiger eyes, lol.

      Yay! Thank you so much, I’m glad it made you happy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Everything you’ve just said confirms my reservations about reading this book… I bought it purely out of curiosity for A) the hype and B) how on earth can Khalid’s character possibly be redeemed when we know from the premise that he has murdered hundreds of women?! – lots of people seem to be swooning over him, and I don’t understand it, which is kind of why I want to read it… but from what you’ve said, I have a feeling I’m going to come out with a similar opinion to yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I know exactly what you mean. I was so desperate to like it but I just couldn’t deal at all. I know that fiction is the place to explore this stuff, and YA is definitely the place to do it but it was just written and approached all wrong.

      It’s quite a quick read, so as long as you’re open to getting extremely frustrated/angry and have some spare time then I’d say to still go for it!

      You never know, you might end up loving it and thinking that my opinions are total rubbish haha. Please do let me know either way, I’d love to know what you think! 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, it sounds weird, but sometimes I like to read books that make me frustrated/angry – I like reading books that are really divisive, that some people love and some people hate. I’m really excited to see what I make of this one! Like you said, it explores a really interesting idea, and YA is a good place to do that, which I think is what made me buy the book in the first place, but it’s one of those ideas which could go horribly wrong if not handled properly! Anyways, whether or not I end up agreeing with you, I definitely won’t think your opinions are rubbish 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my god sorry I’m so slow! I know exactly what you mean – it’s almost cathartic to have a really strong opinion on something. I hate feeling meh about a book more than I hate disliking one!

        Absolutely! I’ll be super interested to hear what you think of the approach to tackling the subject matter and the book in general. 🙂

        Ahhh thank you haha, that’s nice to hear! 😀 x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha don’t worry, I am slow too – I literally just caught up with my comments from 6 days ago… I felt so bad! I completely agree – feeling meh about a book is the worst, because it’s so hard to write a review when you don’t have any feelings about a book! x

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  4. Oh wow… I probably shouldn’t be reacting to this since I loved the book but you’re review does have a lot of good points :O

    I never really looked at it that way. I always thought that Khalid was so violent because he didn’t know any better after being treated the way he was by his father, but you’re right. It is a bad thing. The fact that he’s kind to Shazi doesn’t suddenly turn him into a good person. He remains a killer and a liar…. But I have to admit, I’m one of those girls who fell in love with him *whoops*

    Thanks for the review! It did open my eyes and gave me a little more insight to a story I still love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I’m glad that you enjoyed reading my review even though I totally slated a book that you love! I’m sorry for that, haha! ❤

      To be fair, Khalid's relationship with his father is something I didn't think about at all whilst writing this review and although it doesn't change my view, it's defo an interesting point that I hadn't considered!

      And don't worry about falling in love with him, you're definitely not the only one haha! Plus it's great when us readers have different opinions, it gives us something to talk about other than how much we all love Magnus Bane. 😉

      No thank you for commenting! I'm glad you still love the book, always stick to your opinions! x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The insta-love killed me. And I swear, I kept telling myself “If she describes Shazi’s eyes as orbs one more time!!!…”
    I imagined a girl that looked like O.O the entire time. Very disconcerting. I also wanted to like it, and I feel like the bones of a good story was there.
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahahahahaha! Oh my god. I didn’t notice the orbs thing so much, but I kept giggling in my head at how many times she said Khalid was ‘tiger-eyed’ or had ‘tiger eyes’. I was like he’s a dude, not a wild cat.

      I actually thought that too, but I think sadly, she just went about it in the wrong way and skipped way too much character development.

      Thanks very much! 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This review was FANTASTIC, Sammie. I honestly live for well thought out, honest reviews and this was a perfect example. I feel like I’m going to have a lot of the same issues as you did when I read this book. My first thought after reading this was “YIKES” 😂 I really need to hurry up and read it so I can see exactly how I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. YAAAYKS ! I can’t wait to read this book and not for the right reasons (oups ?) Because most people I trust (aka Fatima, Liam and yourself) don’t like this book and it us such a let down because I was beyond excited for it !
    Brains melting and underdeveloped characters are the worst and I loved your review, it had me giggling a few times and it’s constructive and straight to the point, good job 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love your review!
    I agree with so many points. Why doesn’t Khalid do the noble thing and fall on his sword and save not only all the potential brides, but also the entire kingdom?! Now all the people are in danger due to him choosing one girl over the safety of thousands!
    Everyone likes a good rant!!
    Here’s mine if you’re interested, though not as good as yours 🙂 https://rwh92.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/thewrathandthedawn/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, that’s really kind of you to say so! 🙂 I know, right?! Definitely not the sort of Caliph I’d want ruling my lands! Haha that’s very true, rant reviews are among the most fun to write. 🙂 I’ll definitely check yours out, thank you for leaving me a link!

      Liked by 1 person

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