The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Aldieh
So, I have this tendency. If there is a book that is super overhyped and everyone loves, I tend to wait it out because I know there’s a good chance I’m going to be Captain Not Popular Opinion. I get afraid to read it, because truthfully…I’m kind of a book hipster at heart. It’s not good, and I’m trying to curb myself from that.
Anyway, that is perhaps why it took me so long to read this book. I had heard so many wonderful things about this book, but I had tended to stay away from all the Arabian Nights retellings going on due to the fact that I hadn’t seen Aladdin in a while, and I figured I should catch up on one of the Disney greats before I read these books…instead of, you know, actually reading the original book. That’s how Disney-ified my life is.
However, The Wrath and the Dawn seemed to be the most enticing out of all the Arabian Nights retellings, and I truthfully meant to read this book back in March when I bought it…you can see how well that went.
Anyway, let’s start with the basics: The Wrath and the Dawn takes the foundations of Arabian Nights and interweaves it with a dash of crazy political goodness, monster love interests, and a brilliant love story. When the boy-king of Khorasan kills Shahrzad’s best friend in a nightly ritual, Shahrzad vows to seek revenge on him. She volunteers to marry the caliph, and on the night of their wedding, she begins to tell him a story but ends right before dawn – right when she is supposed to be murdered. This starts the story of Shahrzad fighting to stay alive in this crazy court, fighting her her best friend, but also desperately fighting her growing feelings for the murderous king.
There were points in the beginning of the story that I wasn’t thrilled about this book. It started to pick up around when they first started interweaving the tales from Arabian Nights. Again, I thought I wouldn’t be interested in a story within a story, but the tales that she spun were as interesting as the storyline that Aldieh created. Then it started to flounder a bit again – I wasn’t really feeling Shahrzad, I was bored with Jahander’s and Tariq’s parts, and I felt like nothing was happening. Me = not so happy.
However, I’m not sure when it happened – there wasn’t a a moment or anything – but all of a sudden, I was really into the story. I was devouring chapter after chapter and I went from 32% done to 72% done in a matter of hours since I was so into the book. The way that Aldieh structured her book was super short and readable chapters that would make you say, oh just one more, and then next thing I know I was done with three other chapters and I wasn’t sure what happened with my life.
Khalid provided a super interesting love interest. I haven’t read too many books with the villain as the love interest – except for Shatter Me and it’s probably best I don’t talk about my experience with that – but I actually really loved Khalid. He was mysterious. He was dark. He was brooding, but he truly cared for Shahrzad and he was oh so conflicted. He was basically emo before emo was around – or had faded from pop culture, but I loved him and Shahrzad. I just wanted this little ship to sail – even though there was no bodies of water around for them.
I also loved Aldieh’s concept. She not only interwoven the original elements of Arabian Nights, but she also put her own thoughts in and created such an interesting and unique plot. What was going on with Khalid and Jahnader and the whole court intrigue was so much more from what I thought I was getting in this book. Yes, I wasn’t that fond of Tariq going off on his own and his alone plots, but I saw later on how necessary it was to see what he was doing later on was going to be essential to the plot.
Shahrzad was also such an interesting main character. Something in the beginning irked me about her. Like, I thought maybe she was just trying too hard to be tough or strong? Something just felt off, but midway through, I really began to like her and connect with her. I was totally rooting for her and Despina and Jalal and even that tough bodyguard dude.
Overall, this book was not quite what I expected, but by the end, I was really enjoying the book. I didn’t want it to end and thank goodness, I managed to pick up the other book from a book sale so I won’t have to wait to find out what happens next. I love the romance, the court and political dynamic, and the original concept that Aldieh created. I’m invested in these characters now even though I wasn’t too fond of them from the beginning. There were still some issues I had with it – the whole beginning part – but it’s still a great read. Definitely four stars (rounded up), and would I be without giving this book a Jasmine rating since I mean, she was created based on the Arabian Nights story. I mean, that would just be a missed opportunity, and I’m a firm believer in never missing a Disney Princess opportunity.
Check it out:
What are your thoughts? Have you read it? What are your thoughts on retellings? Or overhyped books? Are you also a Captain Not Popular Opinion Time? Let me know!