Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

In this retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, Shahrzad volunteers to marry the caliph, who has been marrying young women every night and having them killed the next morning. As she learns that the caliph and the murders are not what they seem, she finds herself faltering from her quest for revenge.

I was very excited for Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn and it did not disappoint. I love the story of One Thousand and One Nights. It’s an interesting premise for a collection of folk tales, and it’s great to see a female character use her wits and her talent for storytelling to stay alive. The characterizations of the two main characters are both well done, as they gradually reveal their true natures and motivations. The obstacles they face feel very true to their situation and the end left me eager for the next book.

While I became very invested in the story by the end, I found this book a little hard to get into. The writing, especially in the beginning, isn’t great. There is too much mention of the characters’ eye colors (Shahrzad’s eyes are referred to as her “hazel orbs” at one point), which seemed clumsy and amateurish. Both Despina’s characterization and her plot-line were ham-fisted. She was, by far, the least believable and least enjoyable part of this book. The writing gets better as the story goes on, abandoning the awkward descriptions and focusing instead on the story and furthering the plot.

As far as setting up the plot for the next book, The Wrath and the Dawn does this very well. The antagonists are introduced gradually and the conflict comes about very logically. People aren’t just motivated by “evil.” Every character that opposes Shahrzad and the caliph does so because it is a natural reaction to the events that preceded it. This may not seem important to the everyday reader, but I think it shows Ahdieh knows her story and has thought her plot through. It is the mark of careful planning.

This review can never do justice to how gorgeous this book is. Even though I didn’t like the writing in the beginning, I got completely sucked in. The sequel The Rose and the Dagger is expected to be published in 2016. I’m sure you will be just as impatient as I am.

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
My rating: ☆☆☆ (4 stars)
Recommended for: people interested in non-Western folklore/fairy tales, or if you’re in the mood for a Beauty and the Beast-like love story.

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