When I was young I always loved the fairy tale Aladdin because the setting of the Far Eastern world seemed so exotic and colourful and full of life. I loved the Disney adaptation and think that to this day it remains one of my favourite Disney musicals of all time. To find a book set in this wonderful fairy tale setting is exciting and to then find it is loosely based on the tales of Scheherazade’s A Thousand And One Nights is even more so.
The Wrath And The Dawn is the first book in Renee Ahdieh’s Wrath & The Dawn duology and follows Shaharzad, a 16-year-old girl who chooses to marry the King. Under normal circumstances, this would be every young girl’s dream but this King has been taking a new bride every night and his brides always meet the same fate, killed as the dawn rises the day after their marriage. Shahrazad’s best friend Shiva is one of the brides that Khalid has killed and Shazi marries him for one reason, to kill him and gain her revenge for the death of her friend.
Shazi begins to realise that this King whom everyone hates is hiding a secret, the real reason why he is killing these young women and as she begins to get to know him she finds herself doing the unthinkable and falling in love with the man she had set out to kill. There begins a love that encompasses them both but which could put their whole kingdom in jeopardy.
This book was just wonderful right from the outset. There are lots of new words and descriptions for the old Eastern weapons and dress but once you become familiar with them you are transported to this beautiful world full of spice and colour and beauty. Ahdieh manages to bring this to life and really pulls you into the atmosphere of the novel and it feels like true escapism. If I put the book down I couldn’t wait to get back to it so I could enjoy being in that world for a while instead of Scotland in what has been a cold, wet, windy summer.
We meet a wonderful cast of characters, Jalal the cousin of Khalid and Captain of his Guard, Despina the handmaiden of Shazi who is initially sent to spy on her but who becomes her close friend and confidante. Tariq, the childhood friend and love of Shazi who sets out to rescue her from the palace the fate that has befallen all the other brides of the Caliph. Ahdieh spins a wonderful tale, we know that Khalid hides a secret but we aren’t given this too early on in the novel so this means that the relationship built between Shazi and Khalid feels built upon their real feelings for each other despite the uncertainty Shazi faces about her future.
The ending leaves things wide open as we don’t arrive at a neat conclusion but instead we have a cliffhanger that will lead us into book 2, The Rose & The Dagger which I cannot wait to read. I find duologies are often really nice as 2 books is a good number that means you get to spend a good long time with characters that you love without having to commit to lots and lots of novels. I am excited to add this to my completed duology list of 2017.
This is absolutely one of my 5 star reads this month as it’s a book that was entierly different in setting from lots of books available and a unique take on old fairy tales.