Monday, February 15, 2016

[Review] The Wrath and the Dawn (#1) - Renée Ahdieh

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In THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, Caliph Khalid takes a new bride every day and the next morning, they turn up dead. Shahrzad has lost her best friend to the caliph and is now determined to avenge her by becoming a bride herself - and killing the king.
What intrigued me: An evil king killing his wives. A kickass lady coming to avenge their deaths. Yes. All the yes.

Just Another Retelling

If you are familiar with the original tale of Scheherazade, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN won't surprise you for a minute. I was hoping for this to be focused on revenge and intrigues, but sadly, the protagonist Shahrzad is quickly distracted from her mission to avenge when she falls in love with the king.

Instead of a revenge-filled, sizzling reimagination of the original tale, it's more of a washed down version that doesn't manage to surprise or enthrall for a mere second. Ahdieh disregards the original meaning and purpose of the story and neglects it to tell a love story.
This retelling doesn't feel like it was meant to be about emancipation and standing up for other women like the original - at least not until the pretty love interest walks in. Shahrzad doesn't come across as sincere about truly killing the king for a second, which quickly made me lose interest in the story. 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN borrows from the successful examples of many other similar novels before - love triangles, instant love, the protagonist smitten between the good guy and the bad guy - it's nothing I haven't read a thousand times before.

Superficial World Building

But what definitely makes this novel stand out is the setting. Ahdieh really manages to sweep you up in the Persian-myth-inspired world and it works. Her writing is very lyrical, almost too much so for me.

However, Ahdieh uses the fact that this is a foreign world too much, but merely scratches the surface. So many foreign words, mainly words that simply describe clothing, who even remain unexplained, just for the sake of half-hearted world building. I would have wished to be truly immersed in the culture of that time. Taking this as a retelling of the Arabian/Persian myth, this version of the story doesn't feel true to the customs of that age. Again, her spin on the folk story remains absolutely superficial. It reads like a Western love story set in the desert.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I would have liked more variation and own spin to the tale. You can try it out, especially if you are not familiar with Scheherazade. I just wasn't very fond to this novel's tendency to borrow from things we've all read about before.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN disappoints as a retelling of the famous story from ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, and simply borrows where it's convenient to fuel the love story.

Additional Info

Original Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published: February 12th 2016
Publisher: Bastei Lübbe (one by Lübbe)

"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?"(Source: Goodreads)


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