The Wrath and the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh
Shahrzad has volunteered to marry the evil and cold-hearted caliph of Khorasan, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid for one reason. Revenge. He has killed dozens of girls, and she will kill him before he kills her. No one knows why he marries a girl each day and kills each girl the following morning, but Shahrzad does not care why until he chooses not to kill her the morning after they are married. The more Shahrzad learns of the caliph, the more she wants to learn the reason behind why he did those things and the more she cares for him. It is not until Tariq, her best friend and first love, comes to the palace to rescue her and kill Khalid that she truly understands her feelings and what she must do.
The first time I encountered this book, I had recieved an excerpt from it. I immediately wanted to read the whole thing. Shahrzad is a strong female character who stands up for herself and for those around her. She is the main reason I wanted to read the whole thing. I wanted to see where her character went. When I started reading the book, I was plunged into a world of sand and honey with complex characters where nothing is black white.
Both Khalid and Shahrzad are abrasive and sweet all at once. They both change drastically throughout the book. With both of them eventually sharing their darkest secrets with each other. While Khalid and Shahrzad develop into characters that understand they grayness of the situations they are in, the secondary characters do not develop to this extent. I think this might eventually be possible in the upcoming book but, as the reader, I have not spent enough time with the secondary characters for them develop into anything other than characters that only see black and white.
**The following are from an unedited version of the book. They may not be the same in the published version.
**Possible Spoilers. . . If intending to read the book DO NOT read the quotes
**”But the thought that she might lie to him – that those eyes, with their onslaught of colors, flashing blue one instant and green the next, only to paint his world gold with the bright sound of her laughter – that those eyes might endeavor to conceal the truth, pained him more than he cared to admit.”
I’ve failed you several times. But there was one moment I failed you beyond measure. It was the day we met. The moment I took your hand and you looked up at me, with the glory of hate in your eyes. I should have sent you home to your family. But I didn’t. There was honesty in your hatred. Fearlessness in your pain. In your honesty, I saw a reflection of myself. Or rather, of the man I longed to be. So I failed you. I didn’t stay away. Then, later, I thought if I had answers it would be enough. I would no longer care. You would no longer matter. So I continued failing you. Continued wanting more. And now I can’t find the words to say what must be said. To convey to you the least of what I owe. When I think of you, I can’t find the air to. . . “
I prefer the color blue to any other. The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment. I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night–For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.”
I loved every page of this book. I loved that the reader is not fully omniscient, that there are things that are kept secret from you until Khalid and Shahrzad learn them. This book is beautifully written by Renee Ahdieh, and is probably one of the best debut novels I’ve read. Ahdieh’s use of metaphors and symbolism is mesmerizing and transforms the world around you into the world of Khorasan. You can smell and taste and feel everything about this world, and you will want to stay submerged in it long after the story has ended.