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.
My rating: 5/5 stars
Pros: Good characters, Good relationships, Good plot, Beautiful writing
Cons: Some slow moments, More worldbuilding wanted
I’m a sucker for a good retelling. I think it’s that typical human desire for certain stories. We all love a good ‘chosen one’ story, where one person saves the world against all odds because they’re meant to. We all love stories where good defeats evil because we want to believe that it always will, on the page and in reality. We all love stories where love saves someone from continuing down a bad path because we want to believe that love is always this transformative power. That it’s always that simple. The thing about retellings, though, is that they can either simply retell the story or they can update it, change it, tell it in a completely new way.
I’ll admit I’m not aware of which kind of retelling The Wrath and the Dawn is. I haven’t read A Thousand and One Nights and all I know are random details. Not enough to know how close of a retelling The Wrath and the Dawn is. However, I will say that if the original is anywhere near as good as this retelling, I definitely need to read it.
Hopefully it’s clear that I absolutely love this book. If not, here it is again: I absolutely LOVE this book. Why, you may ask? I’ll tell you why.
First of all, the characters. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that characters make or break a book for me. If I don’t like reading about the characters no plot, no matter how exciting, can draw me in. The Wrath and the Dawn definitely did not have this problem. All of the characters and well-written and three-dimensional. Let’s take Shahrzad. She is fiercely loyal to those she cares about. She is determined when she wants to accomplish something. She is brave. She is intelligent. She is caring. She is passionate. She is also very very human. She has a temper. She can be moody at times. (Though most of her moods make perfect sense to me given the circumstances she’s in.) She can be somewhat childish at times. She can be overly suspicious. Yet her flaws just make her that much better as a character. Now let’s talk about Khalid. His flaws are, especially initially, more obvious than his strengths. He has been the reason for countless deaths. He is short tempered. He can be cold. He is proud. (Though what royal/noble/super rich and powerful character isn’t?) Yet he has strengths as well. When he cares, he cares deeply. He is intelligent. He is honest. He is passionate. He is brave. The secondary characters in the books are equally well-developed. From Despina’s confidence to Jalal’s playful nature to Tariq’s loyalty, each secondary character is their own person and all are given equal importance in the story. The reader gets to know each character as an individual and not just as an acquaintance of the main character (s) they are connected to.
Second of all, the relationships. The romance between Shahrzad and Khalid was, of course, beautiful. It developed at the perfect pace and in a perfectly natural way. It didn’t feel out of place for either character. Shahrzad’s friendships with Despina and Jalal were also interesting to read about, especially Despina. Shahrzad and Despina had their fights, in fact they bickered a lot, yet at the end of the day they both care about each other. Khalid’s friendship/family relationship with Jalal is also an interesting one. Jalal definitely gets on Khalid’s nerves a lot, yet you can tell Jalal definitely cares about his cousin and I’m sure the feeling is mutual, even though Khalid may not be the best at showing it. I also enjoy the (possible? past?) romance between Despina and Jalal and I hope they will have a happy ending (as well as Shahrzad and Khalid, of course) in the next book. I did enjoy learning about Shahrzad’s relationship with Tariq as well as her friendship with Rahim. Although I don’t ship Shahrzad and Tariq, I definitely understand why they both developed feelings for each other. Though I personally prefer them as friends.
Thirdly, the plot. This book is very character driven but there definitely is an interesting plot. A lot of it has to do with Shahrzad trying to figure out when and how she’s going to get revenge for Shiva. The rest is mostly to do with Khalid’s backstory.Then of course there’s Tariq’s part in the plot which has to do with him wanting to get Shahrzad away from the ‘monster’ she’s married to. As I said, very character driven, but I like that.
Fourthly, the writing. The writing in this book is very beautiful. It was poetic and definitely drew you into the story. While reading, I felt like Khalid listening to one of the stories Shahrzad told him. I didn’t want the story to end. And when it did, I wanted more.
Of course, no book is perfect. There are a few minor things that I didn’t enjoy about this book.
First of all, there are some slow moments. Every book has them. For me, the slow moments happen mostly in Tariq’s, Rahim’s, or Jahandar’s points of view. That part of the plot doesn’t interest me much, probably because of my Shahrzad/Khalid bias (not just as a relationship but as individual characters).
Second of all, I would have liked more worldbuilding. There is, of course, worldbuilding in the book but I would like to know more. What do other kingdoms think of what’s going on in Khorasan? Who knows Khalid’s story? What about the magic in this world? How exactly does it work? It appears to require some kind of sacrifice. Why? Is magic common in this world? Are magic users often well known or do they hide their powers? What about Musa’s blanket? How will it come into play in the future? Basically, I have a lot of questions that I’m hoping will get answered in the next book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend anyone who’s a fan of a fantasy/retelling/romance combination.