Synopsis: One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
- The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh is the first book in a planned duology. It is also a debut novel from the author.
- Why did I pick this book up? This was again a recommendation from Amazon (My previous one was The Queen’s Rising ). I also liked the cover-which is not the one you have seen before reading this post- and the blurb.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. This book can be described as a beauty and beast inspired story. It’s really not. I have learned that this book is a romantic retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. I can only remember the Disney’s Aladdin version of the story, even though I have read a couple of tales from Arabian Nights.
This book starts with a wonderfully written prologue and epilogue. Our beast in this story, Khalid is the Caliph of Khorasan, King of Kings and the beauty is Shahrzad, a commoner, Calipha of Khorasan, and the Caliph’s 72nd wife.
**Wait, what ?? Seventy-second wife? **
Yes, you saw that correctly. Khalid, the boy-king, who is just 18 years old has had 71 wives before his beloved Shahrzad. However, all of the 71 wives are killed before dawn. The reason for that is shrouded in mystery. When Shahrzad’s friend becomes the Caliph’s victim, Shahrzad volunteers to be his bride, unbeknown to the Caliph that she plans to exact revenge.
This boy-king, this murderer…she would not permit him to destroy another family. To rob another girl of her best friend – of a lifetime filled with memories that had been and never would be.
Shahrzad prevails to see the next day by telling Khalid a story and promising only to reveal what happens next if he should let her live another day.
- I loved Shahrzad’ sharp tongue, her charisma, and her wit. I loved her boldness which is a sharp contrast to the backdrop, where women are supposed to subservient.
“Is that kind of disrespect … normal?”
Shahrzad lifted a shoulder. “It’s not normal. But it’s not unexpected. It’s the curse of being a woman,” she joked in a morose manner.”
Despite all her desirable characteristics, I found some fatal flaws in Shahrzad’s character. She had no plan to execute her revenge. Soon, she becomes conflicted. She came with a purpose, and now, she lives with a conflicted heart-torn between the Caliph, who is not what he seems and avenging her murdered best friend.
- I loved the stories Shahrzad tells Khalid every night. They are beautifully written short stories.
There are chapters where the story is told from Tariq’s perspective. Tariq, who is rallying his group to overthrow the kingdom and save Shahrzad. Tariq and Shahrzad are childhood lovers, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any development or reminiscence here at all. He just ends up being an annoying interference, due to the romance between Shahrzad and Khalid.
Then there’s Khalid, who can be seen as Shahrzad’s captor. Khalid and Shahzad’s romance can be seen as an example of Stockholm syndrome where the victim develops feelings of trust and/or affection towards his/her captor. However, after rereading the book, I felt that it was not the case. I may be wrong, but as King(Caliph), Khalid has the responsibilty of an entire kingdom on his young shoulder. He has had no guidance from his father(the previous king) and was doing what I think most King’s would do. The “curse” was that if Khalid didn’t kill 100 of his brides before dawn, then his city would be taken from him.Meaning? Devastation on his city in the form of drought or storms that could destroy evrything in its path. There is a point when Khalid explains the reason for killing so many of his brides to Shahrzad, and we come to know what would happen if he ignores the curse . There is a moral dilemma here. Either you save the city or kill inocent girls from each home .
“I love you, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. There is nothing I would not do for you. Nothing I would not consider if it meant keeping you safe. The world itself should fear me if it stands between us.”
The author’s writing is vivid, imaginative without being overwhelming. I loved the descriptions of the palace, fashion, characters. I marveled at the setting in the book. Every sentence made me picture hot winds blowing through the desert and a world of Arabic finery and sultans.
The flaws would be the beginning of the romance. I like the sex scenes described in YA-while some are descriptive, while some are not. In this book, it was awkward and uncomfortable to read. However,I do not think the author is to blame as it is expected .It is expected if we consider the backdrop of the book. In several cultures, the bride is too young, virgin and the sex is uncomfortable or even forced.
“For this was a kiss of definition. A kiss of understanding. For a marriage absent pretense. And a love without design.”
The ending of the book was like the storm, it barreled away so fast that I ended up frustrated. It should come as no surprise, that the book ended with a cliffhanger. It is a relief that I won’t have to wait long to read the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger.
Verdict: I would give this book 3½ out of 5 stars, and I would recommend the readers to proceed with caution. This is a beautifully written book but the story isn’t without its flaws like its characters.
About Author: Read about the author on this website.
**Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2015
Paperback: 432 Pages
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