Book Review: THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh

Title in white inside a pink box edged with gold in front of a pink and white tile geometry

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first book of duology


Book cover for THE WRATH AND THE DAWN: title in white in front of the red face of a girl with big earringsOne 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?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE WRATH AND THE DAWN is a comfort read, perfect for when you need a pick-me-up. It’s one of those odd books that I have some many niggles with, but still return to read again and again despite this. It is a rare book that I will re-read this much that has so many things that bug me.

It all comes down to the story. There is just something so captivating about the story that makes me pick it up again and again. The secrets that turn a monster into a victim (which frankly is a trope I think I should be more wary of all things considered, but I love that Renée Ahdieh never tries to excuse what Khalid’s done – just explain it). The certainty that it will not end well.

The world is so lush, particularly all the food descriptions. It’s so colourful to. Barring Khalid, the story pops with colour and sound. My copy has a glossary at the back, which I found very helpful the first time I read the book, as I was struggling to work out what each of the clothing items actually looked like.

I think I have reached the conclusion that I’m not a big fan of Renée’s writing style. It’s very overdone at time – lots of short sentences that are clearly supposed to be for emphasis but just feel excessive. I won’t go into lots of detail here, as I’ve talked about it before at length, and also this book felt much less exasperating than others. Maybe she’s lent into the style more over her career?

As with the writing style, she also has a character type – snarky banter between too-clever characters. The boys are haunted loners with a cold exterior to hide behind. While some of the quips and rejoiners are good, most of the time they feel there to pad time and stave off the information for a later reveal. I like the characters, but it’d be nice for them to have a straight conversation for once.

The second half of the book is the better half. Khalid and Shazi’s relationship is developing because they’re spending time together and talking about actual things. Not going “I am here to kill him but won’t, for reasons even though this is a good time”. I still have no idea why she didn’t kill him on the wedding night – she clearly didn’t care about her own life being forfeit. So why wait? And why did he not kill her that night?

However, the second half doesn’t have these logical gaps, and I really like the way Khalid deals with finding out about her and the mission – it’s the opposite of what the expectation being set up and was the point I first decided he actually likes her. And, being Khalid, he does it in a very melodramatic fashion.

I will definitely be re-reading the next book. Even though this books has flaws that only become more apparent the more I read them, they’re still comfort books.

Read my reviews of other books by Renée Ahdieh:

The Wrath and the Dawn (this series):

Flame in the Mist:

The Beautiful:

2 thoughts on “Book Review: THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh

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