Before reading this book, I had regrettably never heard of Renée Ahdieh, but now she is definitely going to be added to my list of must-read authors. She creates such a vibrant picture of the world where her fantastic cast of characters live. The opening prologue of the Wrath and the Dawn is one of the most intriguing that I have ever experienced. You immediately want to know more, and the first chapters open with a young bride.. who hates her groom..? And you are like whaaaat? From there, I could not put it down. If you are looking for a perfect road trip booked or for a flight- basically anything that will allow you to completely immerse yourself in the tangles lives of Shazi, Khalid, Jalal, Tariq, and Despina; because that is all you are going to want to do after page one.
Let’s start with Shazi, or Shahrzad. Shazi is such a strong character straight of the bat. Despite her fear and unrelatable and undesirable situation, you still want to channel a piece of her strength, courage, and cunning into your self. Once what she is doing, and why she does hate the groom is slowly revealed, everything begins to click into place. Yet, in the back of your mind, you are still filled with questions from the seeds planted from the ominous prologue.
Now to Tariq, the childhood love and longtime familial friend of Shazi. I immediately started out in his corner. Why? Because I am a sucker for a good old-fashioned “meant to be” love story. Lucky for me, and anyone else who prefers that; don’t worry true love really does come through for us in this tale. Tariq is the boy who Shazi grew up with and slowly that friendship transformed into what appeared was a love of a lifetime. He truly is the heroic male character steeped in chivalry who would do anything, including starting a war; for the girl he loves. She is his every thought and you can't help but want him to succeed in saving her. But then... queue Khalid.
If this was Beauty and the Beast, Khalid would definitely be the role of the Beast. The 18-year-old monster king (or Caliph) that has murdered every one of his many wives the morning after the wedding. Except in his case, the monster is strictly internal, because he is basically described as an even hotter version of Aladdin. Now if you recall my earlier statement, I am a sucker for a meant to be true love. And for about 1/3 of the story, my vote began to shift and by the halfway pint I was 100% Team Khalid.” I won't spoil it for anyone who chooses to read this.... but ughhh... him and Shazi, in my opinion, are so perfect for each other! Even animosity towards his prior offenses are washed away when the reason becomes clear and the prologue is explained. Even some of the “side” characters and I use that term loosely, for this book are so strong and each possess their own defined personalities and story throughout. Jalal, Despina, and Jahandar each get their own 15 minutes of fame, and it makes everything else going on that much more clear. The web of each of their stories just makes you care more about each one of these people.
All in all, the whole storyline is perfectly paced, despite there is quite a lot of information and different things happening.
About this book, US Weekly said, “A riveting Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights love story.” And that is so true! One minute you are rooting for one character, and against another; then fifty pages later, you might just have to rethink everything you thought you felt. Much like Shazi. I can not wait to read the next book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger, and don’t worry, I will definitely be fan girling with you all here, so hang tight!
“Perhaps you’re right. I could see her daring a cobra to strike, swearing her venom would kill first.” Tariq smiled. “And she would win.”
“It is a great gift to find lasting love - one that gives for every bit it takes,” the boy (Tariq) stated with unusual conviction.
“Tariq, what are you ding this? Why are you fighting this battle?”
“Because I love her,” Tariq said without hesitation.
“But... why do you love her?”
“What kind of ridiculous question-“
“It is not a ridiculous question. It is a very simple one. The difficulty lies in the answer. Why do you love her?”
“because-“ Tariq rubbed at the back of his neck. “All of my most cherished memories are of her. I’ve suffered alongside her. And... we’ve laughed at nothing together.” Omar’s hand fell from Tariq’s shoulder. “A shared history does not entitle you to a future, my friend.”
“Do not fear what the setting sun may bring. Where there is a setting sun, there is also a rising one.”
“I failed you in one last thing. Here is my chance to recite it. It was never because I didn’t feel it. It was because I swore I would never say it, and a man is nothing if he can’t keep his promises. So I write it to the sky- I love you, a thousand times over. And I will never apologize for it.”