The Wrath and the Dawn: A Book Review

Posted August 19, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 9 Comments

The Wrath and the Dawn: A Book ReviewThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015
Genres: YA, Romance, Adventure, Retelling, Fantasy
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

Let me just start by saying that this book was perfection. It was beautiful and wonderful and I don’t honestly have much to say otherwise, if anything at all really. So I’m just throwing that out there. This is now one of my all-time favorite books and I will now forever and always be a Renée Ahdieh fangirl. No shame.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about why this book is so wonderful. This is a retelling of the classic story One Thousand and One Nights. There has been a huge influx of retellings being published and becoming popular in the last year or so and I love it. I love retellings because they take the classic original stories, stories that have been shared and adored throughout the years, and make them new, make them something different and unique. And they give you perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise had. And with One Thousand and One Nights, I’m going to be honest…I don’t know much about the original story. And by that I mean I know almost absolutely nothing about the original story. Just that it takes place in an Arabic country and has to do with story-telling. But now I want to know the story. I want to read it and study it, because this book has given me a real appreciation for it.

Sidenote: I now also have a strong desire to watch Aladdin.

Sidenote to my sidenote: This is not a retelling of Aladdin. Different stories, similar cultures.

Going along with that, I think my favorite thing about this book was the culture present. It was rich in language and food and description and tradition. So much so that I not only wanted to be there, but I felt like I was there. It’s not just some little facts about the culture spread throughout the book to make it present. The culture is interwoven throughout its pages, throughout its characters, throughout its dialogue, throughout everything.

The writing is so beautiful. Seriously, there’s a line you could highlight or quote on every page without exception. And it never seemed like too much. It was just perfect and beautiful and just right. Here are some of the quotes I wrote down because I just loved them so:

  • “‘I understand your points. All of them. Now I need you to understand mine. I know there are other women in the world. I know it’s possible for me to find a measure of happiness with another girl. Given time, I suppose anything may happen…But understand this: no matter how many perfect young women you put in my path, there is only one Shahrzad.'”
  • “For the wonder of a first love can never be matched.”
  • “I beseech you, my star…please see past the darkness.”
  • “‘You have a beautiful laugh. Like the promise of tomorrow.’ He said it gently, with the poise of an afterthought.”
  • “With each word, he broke last every barrier, every wall. And Shahrzad’s will fought him, screamed a silent scream, while her heart welcomed the intrusion as a songbird welcomes the dawn.
    As the dying find grace in an answered prayer.”
  • “Those eyes, with their unpredictable onslaught of colors, flashing blue one instant and green the next, only to paint his world gold with the bright sound of her laughter.” [Oh my gosh, so beautiful]
  • “When you meet the one who makes you smile as you’ve never smiled before, cry as you’ve never cried before…there is nothing to do but fall.”
  • “Rain is merely one element of a story–generally a hint of things to come.”

And these weren’t even all of them! The language and diction that Ahdieh chose to use were just utter perfection. Poetic and beautiful and graceful all wrapped into one.

The characters were also rich and complex, nothing stereotypical about them. Shahrzad, or Shazi, is a stubborn woman, willing to do anything to stand up for what she believes in. And I love her. She’s so sassy yet loving, snarky yet kind. My favorite type of person. And yes, she’s stubborn. She holds on to her beliefs like nothing else…but once she gets past those initial prejudices and beliefs, she is able to love deeply.

And Khalid, the main character and king…he’s so complex. He’s like a puzzle that you’re trying to figure out the entire time. You want to give up because it seems too hard, it seems like some of the pieces will never fit…but you don’t and once all the pieces click together, you have something truly beautiful. That’s Khalid. And though I don’t think I’ve gotten the full story about him (hello, sequel), I feel like I understand him on a deeper level.

That’s the one thing that threw me off: I didn’t know it was a series. For some reason when I heard about it for the first few times, I just assumed it was a standalone and that thought stayed in my mind. So when I got close to the end I was freaking out wondering how everything was going to conclude nicely…and then it didn’t. Because The Rose and the Dagger comes out next year. A SEQUEL. I freaked out because I wanted to read more, wanted more of Ahdieh’s writing and more of Shazi and Khalid’s story. BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIT. I want to read it now and sdjisoajdsiaodjsiaomdsaodajso. That’s how I feel about that.

READ THIS BOOK. The Wrath and the Dawn is glorious and you won’t regret it, 100% cash-back guarantee. So read it, love it, live it. And the come tell me how you felt about it because I want to know.


  • Rissi

    Sounds amazing! I’ve been hearing nothing but the highest praise for this one. 🙂

  • I also just read & reviewed this one, Carlisa! Like you, I LOVED IT. Renée Ahdieh certainly has a way with words. I reveled in the way she described Shahrzad’s world. From the culture to the food to the characters, this story was just . . . wow.

    • Yes, I totally agree. Ahdieh described everything so beautifully and I just felt personally immersed in the culture. And I loved that because I honestly don’t know a lot about the Persian culture. I kind of just want to re-read it already.

  • Until I read this review, I was actually under the impression that this was a stand-alone as well. Those quotes that you pulled out are so beautiful. I think reading those alone would make me want to read this book. Of course, though, your review is fabulous as well :D. I love poetic writing. I haven’t come across anything truly poetic since I’ve read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

    • Have you read The Wrath and the Dawn yet, Sarah? Because if you haven’t, you need to change it. I reeeeeally want to know what you’d think of it!

      • I haven’t! I would really like to, though! 😀


    i recently finished the wrath + the dawn and yeah i basically fell in love with the book and renee’s writing and the characters and the story. i love it when books explore different cultures and do it WELL so i loved that aspect of the wrath + the dawn as well. one of the reasons why i love reading so much is because it can offer me so much perspective and knowledge on things i probably would be hard pressed to learn anywhere else. i know very very little about persian culture so i thought it was super interesting to read about the food they eat and the clothes they wear and etc etc. and like you said, renee did a great job of weaving it in throughout the story.

    AND THE WRITING. i honestly think that this was the best writing i’ve read so far this year and probably in a very long long time. like the first thing i remember thinking about the wrath + the dawn was damn this person is an amazing writer. like renee is just so articulate and her words come together so beautifully

    so yeah i basically agree with everything in this review. oh and this: “BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIT. I want to read it now and sdjisoajdsiaodjsiaomdsaodajso. That’s how I feel about that.” sums up my feelings about the sequel as well.

    great review, carlisa!!

    • YES. The culture in Wrath was done SO incredibly well. I just loved the language and the setting and just everything.

      And Ahdieh’s writing was so beautiful. I think this is one of my favorites of the year and one of my all-time favorites just because of her writing.