There may be a thousand and one nights, but I rate Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn as three stars.
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn follows sixteen-year-old Shahrzad who volunteers as the caliph’s next bride. Every night, he marries a new bride and she dies by dawn. Shahrzad, or Shahzi, is determined to live through the night and to avenge her best friend’s death by killing the caliph. Surprisingly, Shahzi falls for the caliph who is nothing like she expected.
I remember seeing The Wrath and the Dawn in bookstores when it came out, but I never picked it up. I’ve heard a lot about this series through the blogging community, so when I found it in my library’s e-books, I decided to give it a try. While I liked many aspects of The Wrath and the Dawn, I think it fell flat in several areas.
Many of novel’s strengths rely on how it stands out from out young adult novels. The setting and the author’s writing style were very different from many other young adult novels that I’ve recently read. While I thought the author’s writing style was beautiful and enchanting, I felt slightly distanced from the story. This caused me to not feel as close to the characters.
Another aspect I really appreciated was how the author integrated the characters’ native language. Personally, I don’t like when authors use a word foreign to the audience to just define it in the next sentence because it often disrupts the story’s flow. I appreciated that the author of this novel did not do that, but included a mini-dictionary in the back of the novel.
One problem that I had with this book was the inconsistency in some of the characters. Shahzi is frequently described as extremely clever, adventurous, and determined to avenge her best friend’s death. Her actions, however, say otherwise. She exposes her archery skills to both the caliph and the head of the military. After only a few days, she’s already in love with the man who killed her best friend. Since I felt so distanced by the writing style, I had a difficult time connecting with her.
Another issue that I had with The Wrath and the Dawn would be the pacing of the different story lines. The magic aspect popped up only a few times throughout the story. Even though it will most likely play a larger role in the second book, the author could have elaborated more on this story line. Also, Tariq’s story line started strong but barely appeared in the second half of the story. When he did appear at the end, his motives didn’t seem to hold up.
Overall, The Wrath and the Dawn stands out for it’s unique setting and writing. However, I felt too distanced from the characters to be completely invested in the story. I rate The Wrath and the Dawn as three out of five stars.