- Takeaway: An intoxicating, sensuous, richly imagined experience with a story that is deeply heartrending and romantic. One of the best, most unique books I’ve read this year.
- Related Posts: 2015 Favorites | 6-Star Reads | Fantastical Adventures
- The Wrath and the Dawn: Amazon | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
“After all, every story has a story.”
With its rich and vivid Middle Eastern cultural backdrop and a barely bridled, turbulent romance, this story owned me. It was visceral and experiential. The story came alive remarkably. I felt as if I were transported to another place, another time, where golden sands buried powerful secrets and magic swirled with riotous intention. Ahdieh’s debut novel is impressive and imaginative, bringing to life a story inspired by king Shahryār and his his wife Scheherazade, in A Thousand and One Nights. Khalid and Shahrzad’s story is different, however, and secrets lurk in a way that makes the reading experience fevered and intense.
“This boy-king, this murderer … she would not permit him to destroy another family. To rob another girl of her best friend—of a lifetime filled with memories that had been and never would be.”
Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s determination is fueled by vengeance, by a sense of justice. Losing her best friend to a murderous king has moved her to take action. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, reigns terror over Rey as he takes a new wife each night, only to murder her each dawn, a silk chord wrapped around their neck. Shahrzad plans to put a stop to these heinous acts, and so she volunteers as his next bride. Shazi leaves behind her father, her sister, her first love, in all likelihood, her life, in efforts to make the monster king pay. On their first night, Shazi woos him with a story… one she does not finish lest she have one more day. And so she does… she meets the dawn, as none others before her have.
Very quickly, however, Shahrzad sees the troubled depths of the Caliph. There’s more to him than what people perceive. He’s a tortured soul, a tormented man with weary, shadowed eyes. He hides secrets she’s now determined to unearth. His past is marred by loss, his present haunted by things Shazi cannot see.
“Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath. If you would, give him the love that will enable him to see it for himself. To a lost soul, such a treasure is worth its weight in gold. Worth its weight in dreams.”
Anger, curiosity and an unexpected desire battle in Shazi with every moment she spends with Khalid. There are moments of connection and vulnerability, but also moments that bring into sharp focus who he is, what he’s done and what she must do.
As one dawn turns into many, secrets begin to unravel as plans take shape elsewhere. Khalid’s past shackles his future, while Shazi’s family and friends threaten her newfound happiness. Because as much as her heart and thoughts deny it, she’s fallen for the king she planned to kill.
Khalid’s pain is deeply felt, and my heart broke for a man who clearly was able to love and desire, who suffered in silence.
“It’s a fitting punishment for a monster. To want something so much—to hold it in your arms—and know beyond a doubt you will never deserve it.”
The connection between Shazi and Khalid, between this girl and this boy, was electric, despite the multiple issues that swirl around them. And as emotions intensify and dangerous plans are unleashed, Shazi must make a choice that will determine much for so many.
“Khalid had to answer for such vile deeds. Such rampant death. Even if he was her air. Even if she loved him beyond words.”
The novel’s conclusion unfurls in such a heart-pounding way. At the flip of the final page, I desperately wanted more… wanted to re-read it from the beginning immediately as to not be finished with this wildly exotic and vivid world.
There was just something really special about this story. How it came alive. How it seemed to almost glitter brightly, appealing to all the senses. It was decadent and colorful, luscious and exotic, fearless and seductive. It’s one of the top three novels I’ve read this year and my new favorite obsession. This book must not be missed by any discerning reader.
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
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