Friday, May 1, 2015

ARC Review: The Wrath & The Dawn

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
The Wrath & The Dawn #1
Expected Publication: May 12th 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

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.
*An ARC was provided by Razorbill Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

The Wrath & The Dawn is one of those books I just knew I had to read the moment I read the blurb. Even though I haven't actually read the story that inspired it, A Thousand and One Nights, I'm familiar with the tale, so I was eager to dive into this re-imagining of such a classic.  I'm pleased to say that this one managed to sweep me away with it's atmospheric setting, forbidden romance - and leave me begging for more!

The Wrath & The Dawn tells the story of a kingdom crippled by fear.  Their young ruler takes a new bride every night, only to have her slaughtered at dawn, when the whole cycle repeats itself over and over again.  When the story begins, our wonderful protagonist Shahrzad, or Shazi for short, offers herself up voluntarily as the king's next bride, after losing her best friend to his deadly rituals. But Shahrzad is not your run-of-the-mill heroine and she has a plan to end this madness once and for all. She will stop the king. At all costs.  Obviously, I would have been hard-pressed not to be won over by Shazi when she takes on such a noble task, right from the start.  She has an understated strength to her character, one I've rarely come across in young-adult fiction.  She had a quiet grace about her, one that she carries with her throughout being moved to the king's palace and facing her certain and imminent death.

The Wrath & The Dawn was most impressive because of it's atmosphere. I was transported into a rich, vivid Arabian-nights setting and that was easily one of my favorite aspects of the book.  I adore desert-settings and everything that goes with them so I guess it shouldn't be surprising that I fell in love with this world! From the wardrobe, the cuisine, the dialect and the customs, it was clear from the word go that author Renée Ahdieh knows her stuff because every single detail felt overwhelmingly authentic to me.  I was left with a major feeling of wanderlust that simply will not let go and to me, that says a lot about the quality of writing on display here. And while we're on the subject of writing, the prose throughout here was simply beautiful, the words painted a vivid picture and seemed to flow like poetry. Sigh.

As the blurb suggests, despite all odds, there is a romance that develops between Shazi and the Caliph Khalid.  Initially, I was worried about that aspect because the blurb almost makes it sound like an insta-love sort of deal but I am happy to say that that wasn't the case.  When Shazi survives her first dawn, you know something's brewing but Ahdieh takes her time with their relationship. It's clear that both parties are intrigued by one another - neither one is what the other expected to be sure, but they do not trust each other. Not by a long shot.  The whole issue of Khalid being a murderer is not glossed over either.  Shahrzad struggles with what she knows to be true and the enigma that is the boy in front of her throughout the book.  The brief glimpses that we get of Khalid's perspective hint that there is more to this nightmare than meets the eye, but that's a mystery is only made clear well into the story - and I savored every instant of it. Those of you who know me know that I can be harsh on YA romances, but I couldn't help but get completely sucked into this one. And you will too because it is wonderful and glorious all at once! Gah!

The Wrath & The Dawn surprised and impressed me at every turn.  It's characters are fleshed out and varied, the pacing was steady with it's fair share of intrigue but all of that pales in comparison to it's setting and romance. I even enjoyed the telling of stories within the story, like Aladdin and Bluebeard!  There's only one thing that bugged me about this book: the ending. The ending is basically one giant cliffhanger for book 2. Kind of like one book split into two parts that stops at the.worst.possible.moment.  My main issue with this is quite simply the fact that I AM DYING to know what happens next. O.O  I can totally picture readers who hate cliffhangers chucking the book across the room once they finish it. I seriously considered it myself, but held back because who could do that to this pretty?!  But hey; if that's not a testament to how good the story was, I don't know what is.  That need to go on with the story will not be satisfied until I can hold The Rose & The Dagger in my hands and bask in it's pages. Ending aside, this was a supremely absorbing read. Fans of forbidden romance and colourful/unique settings should hurry up and get themselves a copy of this one!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

35 comments:

  1. Great review. I can’t wait to read this one.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. Oh, now I'm just extra excited to read this book! I love how it sounds like Shazi is the kind of heroine with a graceful kind of confidence. And what I love about fantasy novels is almost always the setting--I'm so happy to know that the setting in this one is vivid and authentic. :) The romance sounds wonderful as well--I love it when the characters are hesitant and wary of each other at first and then... Gah! <3 Lovely review, Micheline! <3

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    1. YAY^^ Shazi was truly wonderful as a heroine :) but OMG the setting is what really swept me away here ♥ As gorgeous as the romance was the atmospheric backdrop made everything so much more alluring to me! Thank you Aimee!! xxx

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  3. I'm hoping to start this one today - glad to hear it went great for you! I honestly wasn't pulled in by the description right away, but it was one of those concepts that grow on you as time goes by, you know? :) So I hope it'll be as wonderful as it sounds!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Oooh well good luck, I hope it works out as well for you as it did for me. Honestly, as much as the blurb for this one drew me in, I was worried that it sounded a bit insta-lovey, but I was drawn in by the characters and setting right from the start :) Happy reading Mogsy^^ x

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  4. I have this on my library hold list and I'm so excited for it to come in!! I've heard many good things and based on your review I'm going to gobble it up, and most likely throw it across the room at the end lol.

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    1. YAY I can't wait for you to get your hands on it Kelsey! Hopefully you'll fall for it just like I did - but since it's a library book, try *not* to chuck it across the room *too* hard ;) haha

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  5. I am so excited for this one! The atmosphere of the novel sounds amazing. I didn't realize until reading your review that The Wrath and the Dawn has elements of Bluebeard and Aladdin. That seems so cool :) The cliffhanger has me nervous, though. Great review!

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    1. I'm glad to hear it Montana :D Actually it's more like it incorporates those stories into the narrative - the MC tells those stories to someone else, and I really enjoyed the 'story within a story aspect'! The ending is a bit cruel so maybe wait until the sequel's release is closer? Thank you^^ x

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  6. How beautiful is the cover though, this is on my TBR & I cannot wait to dive into it soon :) I'm so glad the characters aren't white, well I love white characters but I need diversity too you know? They're from my race which makes me want to love this book even more! I loved Aladdin so here's to hoping I enjoy this read. Fantastic review <3 Benish| Feminist Reflections

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    1. We totally need a LOT more diversity in books Benish! I'm hoping you'll appreciate this one as much as I did :) And I agree: that cover is amazing ♥ Thank youuu! xxx

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  7. i agree with you on the author knowing her stuff.. i'm arab so a lot of the terms that were used i understood and a ton of the actual cuisine, lifestyle wasn't foreign to me and it definitely felt authentic. I also loved everything about the book and the romance between them. it was very slow, just how i like it. I can't wait for the sequel!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. I'm glad to see that it was realistic and authentic for you as well - I'm no pro on middle-eastern culture but it felt so incredibly real that I felt like I was being swept away right into arabian culture. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book! Same here, everything about this one worked for me...well, except that cruel, cruel ending XD Thanks for stopping by Juhina^^

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  8. I somehow haven't heard much about this one until now, but sign me up! I definitely have not read any YA with this setting, which sounds wonderfully immersive. Shazi seems like an amazing heroine, too, and yay for a YA romance that actually works for a change!

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    1. Oh wow, well I'm glad to bring it to your attention then Lee^^ The setting was above reproach and me and Shazi really hit it off. I've read that a few people had issues with the romance and I can see that happening but for whatever reason, this really worked for me! I hope it will for you too :)

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  9. Oh wow..this wasn't even on my radar. Your review is beautiful and you have me curious. This one is getting added to my list!

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    1. Awesome, glad to hear that Kimberly :D Thank you^^ and I hope you'll love it! xx

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  10. This is a great review, thanks, Micheline!
    I've seen this book around the web and I'm very intrigued. I love 1001 nights (I love fairytales in general and I know the stories) so I really want to read this retelling.
    I'm glad you liked the language - I feel like with worlds such as this one the telling is everything. If the author's words fell flat, you'd get thrown out of the story.

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    1. Thanks Kaja^^
      The words were so wonderfully fluid and vivid, the whole thing just immersed me in this world and never let go till the very end. I agree with you, if the words hadn't worked so well, you could totally get thrown right out of the story! If you love retellings (and who doesn't?! haha) you should enjoy this one :)

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  11. This book sounds sooo good and I love when a retelling is done well. I am definitely curious about these characters... especially because of how they come together. Great review!

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    1. I do too Teresa^^ The characters were really memorable in their own right and I love getting to know both of them separately but the best thing was like you said: how they came together! Thanks xx

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  12. Now...now I am supremely unhappy to hear there is going to be a cliffhanger. I do not like those and I was really freaking hoping / thinking this was going to be a standalone otherwise I probably wouldn't have requested it. Argh too late now I must read it. I am glad to hear it's feels so authentic tho and you enjoyed it. Excellent review dear!

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    1. There's definitely a sequel but I think it might be a duology, which explains why it felt like the book stopped, mid-plot O.O This might have been a 5-star read if not for the abrupt 'ending' I hope you manage to enjoy it despite that though, just like I did! Thanks love^^ x

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  13. I absolutely CANNOT wait to read this one! My friend and I have near identical taste and she's reassured me that this'll be a hit for me hahaha I love a good forbidden romance so am very glad that this one offers just that! I love the sound of this slow brewing romance and weariness and lack of trust. I love seeing that development! And an atmospheric setting? Sign me right up! Fabulous review, Micheline! I cannot wait to pick up a copy <33333

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    1. Woo-Hoo, that's awesome Jess^^ The forbidden romance was wonderfully done, realistic despite the characters very unique situations. I was worried it would come off like insta-love but it really didn't! And the setting was glorious, I seriously can NOT praise it enough ♥ Thanks lady! xx

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  14. I didn't realize this was coming out so soon. I want to read it! Glad you enjoyed it so much!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen at YA Romantics

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    1. Very soon indeed ;) I hope you get to read it soon and that you love it as much as I did! Thanks for stopping by Jen^^

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  15. The world building, and subsequently the writing, sound glorious. I can't wait for this one, I'm even more excited now! I'm pretty sure this romance was made for me, it sounds amazing and not at all like how YA romances usually are. Plus if it comes with your seal of approval ;)

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    1. hahaha thanks Alise ;) I really felt transported into the setting and the writing was so fluid and pretty ♥ As much as I don't usually read for the romance, this one won me over in an instant! I hope it will work just as well for you^^

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  16. You've given me hope that I will like this one! It sounds like there isn't really magic, but a rich and interesting setting can go a long way for me and if you promise the romance isn't infuriating, I will trust you ;-). I snagged an audio review book so will probably listen to it next!

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    1. There is a little bit of magic but I have a feeling there will be more in the sequel^^ I don't know, for me the magic sort of took a backseat to the gorgeous setting and the mystery of the plot and characters - shocking right?! LOL I hope you'll have as much luck with it as I did Anya :)

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  17. It sounds like this one would checkmark a lot of my favourite bookish elements! Besides cruel cliffhanger ending, of course.

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    1. I really think you'd like this one too Aylee, even if the romance wasn't your thing, that glorious setting would have you swooning. And of course, I mean minus the evil cliffhanger of doom O.O

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