BOOK REVIEW + DISCUSSIONS: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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BANNER YA RETELLING

I finished this last night and I realized it was a great book to wrap up my June reads. This book was truly a gem! It’s a stirring and sexy retelling of the famous classic One Thousand and One Nights that will left you yearning. This has been by far one of the most beautiful piece I have ever read in a long time! I actually felt happy reading this because it mesmerized me in an exquisite way. This is my in depth review accompanied by gifs to express my feels! *hyperventilates*

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TITLE: The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn # 1)
AUTHOR Renee Ahdieh
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling, Romance
FORMAT: eBOOK
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
DATE READ: June 30, 2016

ADD TO GOODREADS

5

GOODREADS:

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?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

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non spoilery review

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This is absolutely the type of retelling I was looking for. It didn’t entirely adapted the original classic but also created a whole new thrilling premise!

The story revolves around Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, the Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night only to have them executed at sunrise. Shahrzad volunteers herself to be his next bride with a plan to outsmart the evil boy king to take revenge after her best friend Shiva, was killed in the same manner as the Caliph’s previous brides. Shazi was able to extend her life by telling Khalid a story with a promise to only reveal what happens next if he should let her live another day.

One of the strongest aspects this book has, is the writing style of Renee Ahdieh . It’s truly rich, vibrant and evocative that it would really plunge you inside the story. Also, all the characters are equally compelling and they all have their own charms. None of them are throwaways because each plays a vital role in the story. Even those annoying villains and most importantly Tariq (gosh he’s so annoying), are important bricks to establish the whole construction of the story.

The dialogue feels natural and addicting. The good dialogue between the characters promoted their rich knowledge and vocabulary; they spoke beautifully, argued beautifully and what they say always make sense which always leave some points to ponder. I also love the stories within the story narrated by Shahrzad herself, she easily became one of my favorite heroines; sarcastic, smart and silver-tongued and she’s a dmn good storyteller. Khalid, on the other hand, is a character that I was scared to meet at first. He is like the beast in Beauty and the Beast; quick-tempered and unpredictable. But once you get to know him, you will surely understand him and at some point, love him.

The world building is lustrous and splendid and I love the pacing and how every pieces of puzzle fits together to form the story. The romance melted my heart because it’s such a perfect balance and not forced. I can’t really say that this is an insta love on Shahrzad’s part because she’s conflicted on whether or not she should surrender her heart to the Caliph of Khorasan knowing his murky and dark history of killing his wives. But I’m still not sure on Khalid’s part as to why he chose to make an exception and spare Shazi’s life. Is it because he was beguiled with her stories? Is it as simple as a mutual attraction or love? Or something entirely even more? What is it with Shazi? I have a theory that will discuss on the spoilery part down below.

The plot twists incorporated in this story are really unexpected and all the events and revelations that lead to that plot twist is really gripping nail biting. I highly recommend reading this but I warn those who don’t like romance that much because this book is “romancey” but in a good way.

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I will not recall the whole plot line but I will plunged straight on the discussion part or the parts I was most interested to discuss. Okay so first of all, WHAT THE EFF IS THAT ENDING!? I mean, I’m not disappointed with it but it’s such a cliffhanger in a way that it made me sob because our main characters separated ways. And I really don’t know what’s going on in Khalid’s mind, why did he burn his letter to Shazi?

  • Shahrzad’s Stories and Magic

Following the premise of One Thousand and One Nights, we all know what’s going to happen; Shazi will try to survive by beguiling Khalid into her enchanting stories. But it’s really intriguing to see how she’s going to do it. We have to give credit to Shazi’s magnificent story telling. Even as a reader, my mind was filled with vibrant image of her stories with a twinge of curiosity  whether she’s relating it to her current situation in order to imply something to her listener, who is none other than, the Caliph of Khorasan.

But reading the whole story, even though Shazi’s stories really enticed Khalid, I’m pretty sure there’s something more about her that saved her ass. It wasn’t her whole story telling that saved her as opposed to what the plot promised. Maybe her story telling paved the way to bring out her vivacious and sharp personality. Maybe, Khalid was reminded of her mother everything Shazi narrates a story. But was it enough reason for Khalid to jeopardize his whole kingdom for just one girl when he had done the killings multiple times? Was it the first time he fall in love? Or was it something to do with Shazi’s dormant magic? Does Khalid knows?

Magic is one of the many things in this novel that truly solidify that plot line. I mean, this book could still stand on its own without the magic but inserting magic in the story line make it downright more interesting. Renee didn’t entirely discussed the origin of it but it’s a foreshadowing in a way that you know that it will shape the whole story in the future installments. I need to know more of it! We all saw that Shazi’s father Jahandar also has a magic and we have learned that he’s an evil mongrel but we are still not absolutely sure how he got the magic. Shazi’s magic was first shown when she was able to make the carpet move without touching it. Her magic was also recognize by Khalid’s old tutor and he claimed that her magic is dormant and he could teach her how to use it. Does it mean that he also has a magic?

  • The Reason for the Senseless Murder

This is one of things that we’re most curious about. I first thought that he’s doing that as an act of being rebellious and his evil deeds were brought upon by his rough childhood. His mother was treated as a whore and with no respect until the day she died. I thought Khalid was just trying to take revenge to the whole kingdom that treated her mother as such.

But we have seen through Khalid’s and Shahrzad’s interactions (and snippets of Khalid’s POV) that he’s a genuine person  with a kingdom to run. He truly cares deep within his heart about his kingdom and his people more than anything else. But if he’s that kind of persona, why does he kill?

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“One hundred lives for the one you took. One life to one dawn. Should you fail but a single morn, I shall take from you your dreams. I shall take from you your city. And I shall take from you these lives, a thousandfold.”

The evil CURSE.

It was brought by Khalid’s first wife’s father. Following the death of his daughter, I think he sold his soul to the evil just to have this capacity to curse someone. My reaction that that revelation was a series of annoyed face palm. I’m not annoyed with the reason why Khalid kills, because he had a little choice to choose from. And we know how much he tried not to kill at first but then drought and starvation came upon his whole kingdom which leaves him no choice. What I’m annoyed about is Ava’s father. It’s not like Khalid killed Ava and yet he chose to bring a curse upon the whole land. He’s the worst kind of human being! Ava committed suicide because she felt unloved though I feel sad for her, I can’t bring myself to sympathize with her father. Revenge is not the answer to everything and it’s not like he would bring justice to Ava’s death by inflicting the pain to other fathers because Ava’s chose this lone path.

What I’m also curious about, did Khalid ever tried to consult some talisman to try to fight off this curse? I also find the role of the faqir in this book sort of bizarre. At first, I thought he was just a healer because I thought, Khalid was sick. But after reading the whole book as well as the glossary, faqir means a scholar of magic and mysticism. This made me suspect whether Khalid also posses some dark powers that might explode if not controlled or whether the pain he’s paining is just a result of the curse because he’s stopped killing since Shazi came. If Khalid stops killing, will he also feel its side effects?  Maybe the faqir is so much more than that and I’m excited to unravel the role of magic in this story.

How will they be able to fight off the curse? Maybe, we need to see the presence of Khalid’s old teacher. Maybe he’s got some answers.

  • Jahandar- effendi  and the Sultan of Parthia, Salim Ali el-Sharif

Who would have thought that these two are gonna be a dynamic duo? I know that by nature, Salim will do no good ever since the day we met him. But I never ever once thought that Shazi’s own father will conspire with him. Sure they both have intentions, to take over Khalid’s kingdom (like what we have seen in Jahandar’s POV, he want to be kings of kings). But what is Salim’s intention? Was it the same intention with Jahandar? Was he aware of Jahandar’s powers?

To be honest, I’m pretty scared of what these duo would do. I think they have more advantage because everyone hates Khalid and it’s easy to take everyone to side with them in this rebellion. I’m impressed with Renee because she didn’t only focused on the curse itself, she added a huge subplot that could make the whole story thrilling.

I think Shahrzad is the key to end this. I wish she would return in Khalid’s side before it’s too late.

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“But it’s inevitable. When you meet the one who makes you smile as you’ve never smiled before, cry as you’ve never cried before… there is nothing to do but fall.”

SHAHRZAD AL-KHAYZURANOkay, I’m not going to deny it but I think she is my second favorite female character next to June Iparis from the Legend trilogy. I hate it when a character is being bullied and they won’t fight back to defend their side. I’m glad that Shazi is the opposite of that. She isn’t fazed or become disoriented when someone tries to taunt her. As the matter of fact, she always hit them with a huge come back statement that will leave them flabbergasted. She’s always calculate things, she’s witty, sharp-minded and a magnificent story teller.

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However I didn’t see the conviction of her to kill anyone even the murderous Caliph. What I like about her is that, she knows she has a goal to do, which is to kill, but she’s never close minded to the fact that maybe there is a good reason for all these evil deeds committed by the Caliph of Khorasan. And this open-mindedness of her made her fall for the Caliph. Isn’t it that the more you get to know the person, and his deepest thoughts, the more your heart melt for him? But it took a long time for the Caliph to open up to Shazi, her curiosity of wanting to break inside him and get to know the real him, maybe is one of the factor that made her fall for the Caliph. ( And plus he’s attractive and handsome lol )

KHALID IBN AL-RASHID: He’s mysterious and protective and who would have thought that he has a romantic side. He kind of reminds me of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast because he was a feared individual and viewed as a monster. If you don’t know him, you will entirely think that he kills without a reason. Because there is no enough reason to justify the murder he had committed. But after reading the book, yes he admit he did all the murders and he is in now way in any position to be forgiven, but he did it because of the curse. He did it to save the whole kingdom’s impending doom. Deep within his heart, he wanted to protect. I like the fact that he enjoys listening to stories and the fact that he’s a genuine person, especially when he wrote those letters with no intention of sending them because he doesn’t want to show off or try to prove anything. Despite all the hate, he’s willing to take all that if it’s what it take to protect his people. I like the fact that he never forced Shahrzad for anything she doesn’t want. He always give her a choice.

And even after finishing the book, I still can’t read Khalid’s mind. He remains mysterious to me. Though it took a long time for him to open up with Shazi, but it’s fine because we clearly know where he’s coming from. I wish we get to know more of his POV more in the sequel.

Okay I don’t know who this guy is but the moment I saw him, I immediately picture him as Khalid. His features remind me of Khalid’s stoic aura. *SWOON*

Khalid

 

JALAL AL-KHOURYCousin of Khalid, he’s inquisitive and smart. At first, I couldn’t bring myself to trust him, but in the end, we realized that he’s truly loyal to Khalid. I like the fact that he continued believing on Shazi even after he caught her with Tariq. He was indeed a fool for the rain and I appreciate the fact that he always give Khalid the best advice which I presume also helped Khalid in accepting that he truly loves Shahrzad. I can see Jalal as a good friend of Shazi and I ship him with Despina.

DESPINA: She’s Shazi’s handmaiden from Thebes. You won’t easily trust her because she’s suspicious and like what Shazi said, she has rebellious eyes. I even suspected her that she put a poison to Shazi’s tea because she looked sick that day when Shazi almost drank the tea. But later on we realized that she’s pregnant and the father is Jalal that’s why she looked sick that day. Shazi really needed a girl bestfriend and I’m glad Despina was there for her. I keep on picturing her as Genya from the Grisha trilogy. They both have skillful hands and can bring beauty out of a person.

TARIQ IMRAN AL-ZIYAD: I dislike him but I don’t hate him. He and Shazi were childhood lovers and then one day he decided to venture out to save Shazi from the palace. There was a feast held in Rey in order to honor Khalid’s new Queen. He was able to gain access because his father is an Emir and he stole his invitation letter and went on his behalf. He thinks that Shazi is hypnotize that;s why she acts differently, that explains why she cars for the Caliph. (hah! you’re wrong) He’s good in archery and he’s the one who taught Shahrzad how to aim. I don’t know what role he will play in the future but he’s truly a rival, and hearing that he’ll be the face of the rebellion against the Caliphate of Khorasan doesn’t sound fetching to me. Maybe I would like him if! after he learned the truth about Jahandar’s plan, he will side Shazi and the Caliph.

YASMINE: She really intrigues me. I think she will side Khalid because she loves him and I can sense her rebelling against her father Salim, when she found out that he’s gonna kill him. I still don’t know if I would like her. She’s a rival!

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If I could date a book, I would probably date this! This book is utterly romantic but despite that there’s a lot of things going on outside it.

“And with a kiss, Shahrzad let herself fall. For the boy who was an impossible, improbable study in contrasts. The boy who burned her life to cinder, only to rmake of it a world unlike any she had ever known.”

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What I like about the romance is that it doesn’t feel forced. All feels natural and there’s a strong chemistry between Khalid and Shahrzad. The way they talk to each other is so poetic and dreamy and I ship them so hard. I wanted to say that DESIRE, is one of the things that runs in this story. Khalid desired to be loved by Shahrzad for who he was and Shahrzad desired for Khalid to open up to her. And yes their attraction to touch each other really exploded my heart. I don’t care if their dialogues were a bit cheesy and too good to be true.

“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.”
The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.
“No.”
His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”

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Renee writes as if she’s writing to a lover. Her writing style is truly an art. I love how she incorporated beautiful Arabic words (?) because it introduced us to the wider aspect of the culture. The story felt alive in our mind and really plunged us inside. Renee uses a third person perspective which made it easier for us to read the story in a bigger picture. We’ve been not just in Shazi’s POV but also in Khalid’s , Tariq, Jahandar and Jalal. It’s nice to see how the story progress as it goes on and how dynamic it was. Renee writes beautiful and she have made a masterpiece that’s truly poignant and exceptional.

I just wish that the foreshadowing she had shown us will be explained later on because I can see that this world is going to be big.

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This is my cup of tea and I would recommend it to everyone who loves a romantic retelling with a twist. I give it 5 anchors!!!

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS RETELLING? LET ME NOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. AND IF YOU LIKE THIS BOOK, COMMENT YAY OR NAY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT.

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2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW + DISCUSSIONS: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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