Review: The Wrath & the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh)

Book Review: The Wrath & the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh)
book cover Book title The Wrath & the Dawn
Series/standalone The Wrath & the Dawn #1
Author Renee Ahdieh
Pages 388
Year published 2015
Category | Genre Young Adult | Fantasy, Retelling
Rating 3.5 star

Official Summary

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.


First and foremost, we got Shahrzad, a brave and headstrong young girl volunteered to marry a murderer to avenge her best friend. Then there’s Khalid, the murderous boy-king. Shazi is a strong heroine, one that could gain sympathies from readers… once they got over their disbelief of her impulsively rushing to meet her end. There, that’s my biggest gripe with The Wrath & the Dawn, that this brave and smart girl who was supposedly cunning enough that she believed she could kill her husband, the king, would rush wildly toward death without any concrete planning. The only signs Ahdieh shows us of Shazi’s plan to kill her husband were when she showed off her archery skill and that one time she thought to kill him but couldn’t make up her mind.

Then there’s the fact that the Khalid married her without any background check. Like… wouldn’t someone find out that Shazi has a best friend who was murdered right there in the palace. But noo, they all rushed in to get the two to wed.

But I digress. Let’s go back to Khalid. For a murderous boy-king, he is not at all a monster – as one would already find out by reading the synopsis. I like Khalid. He was a tortured soul trying to do what’s best for his people while sacrificing himself a bit at a time. As a matter of fact, I like them both. Khalid and Shahrzad were both characters with their own agenda and for once I actually liked the romance in the book. It was not cheesy, you could totally see they’re both trying to stay true to their course, trying not to fall in love, and I cannot help but rooting for them.

On the other hand, there was the jealous boyfriend, who for me was just unnecessary. Not to mention his relationship with Shazi were not shown on-screen making it hard for me to sympathize with his cause. Similar thing could be said of Shiva’s friendship with Shazi. Of course, the best friend is dead by the time the story started, but if only I was given more than a glimpse of how close the two girls were I could probably understand Shazi’s impulsive behavior.

Okay, enough with the negativity. Let’s get to the good stuff. As I mentioned before, the romance is well-balance and complement the story nicely. Shazi’s anger was balanced by her feelings and compassion for other human beings, and so did Khalid’s despair with his feeling for Shazi. Despina was another character worth mentioning. Her interaction with Shazi showed us another side of the latter, and I adored their friendship.

The writing was another highlight of the book. I’m trying to be objective here, so bear with me. Ahdieh’s writing was beautiful, but at times she’s getting way close to flowery prose. For some people, this might be the book undoing. For me, though, it’s exactly what the book needs. It made the book atmospheric, and Ahdieh’s writing was vivid enough to transport the readers to Khorasan. The magic, one of the thing I expected to find in the book was non-existent for the large portion of the book, but that’s okay as there’ll be time for that in the second book. I hope.


The Wrath & the Dawn made me feel conflicted, but it certainly worth reading for the diverse cast, the well-balance romance, the atmospheric setting, and the great writing.

Final Score

3.5 stars (out of 5 stars)

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