This book has been on my TBR for a while, now. I was definitely drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the incredible reviews: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh currently has a 4.24 rating on Goodreads. I’ve also been wanting to read more fiction set in the Middle East, since that is, sadly, not a category I tend to read a lot even though I’m half Middle Eastern. So I was really excited about this book.
Every night, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, takes a wife. And each morning at dawn, he has her killed. When Shahrzad’s best friend falls victim to the monster king, she volunteers to be his next bride. It’s the only way she’ll be able to get close enough to kill him. But first, she must figure out to survive until the next morning. So she tells Khalid a story, but only enough to make him want to hear the rest. So he keeps her alive for one day, and then another. Finally, Khalid has become so enchanted with Shahrzad he declares her his queen. And despite herself, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love with the Caliph. Now she has to decide for herself whether Khalid is really a monster, or just a boy with a tormented heart.
I really wanted to love this book. I did. But I struggled to get through it. And that is mainly due to the writing style. Going into this book, I’d read plenty of reviews. Nearly all of them mentioned how beautiful the writing is. So I will admit to having high expectations going in. I’ve also been pretty picky about writing since I started grad school. And my most recent class was an editing class, so I’ve very recently trained myself to notice any and all mistakes in a manuscript. So I am a bit (read: much) pickier than the average reader. (That’s not to say I’m perfect – I’m sure there are typos in my posts – but I’m more likely to notice when there are typos and grammatical errors.) When a writing style is off, I just feel it in my bones. And there was definitely something just a little bit off about this book. It didn’t take me long to pinpoint what I didn’t like about it: it’s trying to hard to be “good” writing that it just doesn’t quite work. You know how you can kind of tell when someone is using bigger words than they’re accustomed to? That’s how I feel about this book. The writing really annoyed me, so much so that I ended up skimming the second half of the book. I was not excited about the idea of picking this book back up, and almost DNF’d it. It’s also worth mentioning that there is a comma error on page 2 that completely changes the meaning of the sentence it’s in, and made me stop and reread the paragraph a few times to make sure I understood the meaning. When errors are that distracting, I’m automatically inclined to like the book a little less (though that’s probably just me).
That said, I didn’t entirely hate it. I actually liked the story (and really want to read the original Thousand and One Nights – of which The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling – now). I wanted to know more about the characters and their world, despite the fact I didn’t enjoy how I was being told about them.
I had a hard time deciding on a rating for this one, because the story itself is probably a 3.5/4, but the writing is definitely more like a 2 for me. So I settled on giving it a 3. If you’re not picky about writing (and based on almost every other review I’ve seen, most people are not quite as fastidious as I am), I would recommend giving The Wrath and the Dawn a try. Because the story is great!
Personally, I won’t be reaching for the sequel when it comes out later this year, which is a shame because the covers are gorgeous! But keep in mind there is one coming, so if you haven’t read this book yet, you might want to look into it before then.
If you’ve read The Wrath and the Dawn, I’d love to hear your thoughts!