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?
I remembered that I really liked this book when I first read it last year, and thought that the setting and characters was a breath of fresh air. It had an absolutely gorgeous setting, the characters were witty and bold, and I enjoyed the story. I realize that revisiting the book allows me to be a bit more critical because it is already familiar, so this time around I wasn’t as swept up and I noticed the writing a bit more.
The Wrath and the Dawn is inspired by A Thousand and One Nights and it’s evident through Shahrzad’s nightly encounters with Khalid as she enchants him with stories. The setting as mesmerizing and vibrant as I remembered, and I loved the hints of magic throughout the story. Being based off of A Thousand and One Nights makes for a really interesting premise with a lot of potential, but I felt that there were some points that could have been explored differently or more fully, namely focusing on side characters and their roles, but I realize that the focus is mainly on Shahrzad’s story. To that extent, I felt that some of the relationships were a bit hollow they were more tell-not-show in that aspect. However, that is not to say that I didn’t like the characters. I liked the dialogue, and I loved the quick-witted banter between the characters. To be completely honest, I never really warmed up to Khalid, but I liked Shahrzad’s boldness and brashness, even if it did border on arrogant at times. Thankfully, her handmaiden Despina was just as clever and bold and grounding, so their exchanges were entertaining and felt really authentic,
I wasn’t as invested in the romance this time around because I found it a little too insta-lovey. Looking back on it, I’m a little disappointed at how quickly Shahrzad’s resolve crumbled. The story starts off with this character so determined to bring down the murderous king that I could feel her spark, but then it just flickered out. I don’t really think of myself as a grudge holding person, but when a character vows vengeance I usually like them to put in a solid effort before caving into their emotions, and I really didn’t feel that this was the case. I was annoyed with how quickly Shahrzad kept flipping between her resolve to end Khalid and her (rather unfounded) love for him. I like relationship development and the anticipation that builds from it, and I couldn’t really find that in my reread.
I definitely think my tastes in romance has changed because this time around Khalid and Shahrzad really didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t super invested in their love story, but I still did really like the banter and Shahrzad’s interactions with the other residents within the palace. I feel like I just totally bashed this book, but I want to end off my review by stating that this really is a fun and quick read that I would still recommend, maybe just not from the romance aspect!