Last month I promised that I would take a break from reading romances after a trail of bad love stories made me lose faith in the genre. So when I finally read The Wrath & The Dawn, and came out on the other end with a pounding heart, goose bumps and starry eyes, I was elated.
The Wrath and The Dawn is about eighteen year old Khalid, Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night only to have her executed by morning. After young Shahrzad lost her best friend to the boy-king, she is consumed by loss and hatred; vowing to avenge her fallen friend. Shahrzad plots her own murderous scheme by volunteering to be the Caliph’s new bride, with a determination not only to survive, but to end the kingdom’s suffering for good.
Of course, not everything is black and white. The king is tormented by secrets of his own, and Shahrzad realizes he is not at all the monster she had him pegged for. She finds herself suspending the fate she had in store for him, and after weeks of fighting the truth of her heart, they fall in love…
“Love is – a shade of what I feel
It needs to be said that the characters in this book were wonderful! Khalid was mysterious and quiet, but in the rare moments where I got a glimpse of the person behind the mask, I couldn’t wait to read more about him. Shahrzad was everything I look for in a female lead of a romance novel. She was strong and determined, and even though she gave up on her mission way too quickly for my liking, she still maintained her independence and confidence.
This book was also one of very few romances that had captivating secondary characters. Jalal was witty and playful, but he was also a voice of reason toward the main characters; while Despina turned out to be the female friend Shazi never realised she even needed. And then there was Tariq, Shahrzad’s childhood love, who I am still not sure what to make of but played quite an important role in the story too.
Renee Ahdieh’s writing style captured this story perfectly, with intoxicating descriptions that really supported the Middle Eastern influence. The dialogue between not only Khalid and Shazi, but all the characters, was enchanting and natural that made the book such a pleasure to read. Here, I’ll give you a little taste:
“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”
“I am not a fool.”
“No, you’re not. Not yet.”
“So you intend to go through life never loving anyone? Just … things?”
“No. I’m looking for something more.”
“More than love?”
“Is it not arrogant to think you deserve more, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid?”
“Is it so arrogant to want something that doesn’t change with the wind? That doesn’t crumble at the first sign of adversity?”
“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
There were a few minor issues with the story line that bothered me, including the point that I mentioned earlier about Shahrzad’s reluctance to carry out her plan. I also felt that the revelation of Khalid’s secret and his profession of love came a bit late in the story, which made the ending feel a tiny bit rushed – although I know it was necessary to build the urgency of what was happening beyond the walls of the palace. Jahandar’s side story was also left unclear to me, which I’m not sure was an issue for me alone, but was an issue none-the-less.
With all that being said, this book was an intoxicating read with a little bit of everything – magic, romance, action and suspense – and I could not put it down. I admit it was a bit slow at first, but after the first few chapters you shouldn’t be surprised if the pages start to turn faster than what you want them to. And even though it had a few flaws, the pros far out weighed the cons, making it is so deserving of the 5/5 star rating I gave it on Goodreads. So, if you’re looking for a sultry romance with characters that you’ll think of for days, then do give this book a try. I highly recommend it!