book review: the wrath and the dawn



The Wrath and The Dawn is a book that has received a LOT of hype lately, despite being a very new book published only this year(in May, that's 2 months ago!) and is the author's debut book. I picked up this book with quite a high bar of expectation, and unfortunately am left a little disappointed. I definitely am blaming the hype for this, and i think i would have enjoyed it a lot more if i hadn't set any expectations at all. My mistake. However, I was only disappointed with the first half of the book and the second half somewhat gives justice to the hype. I'm rating it 4.2 out of 5.

The Wrath and The Dawn is a book about a sixteen-year-old girl named Shahrzad, who volunteers to become the Caliph of Khorasan's latest bride. The Caliph is a young boy-king named Khalid, who for some unexplained reason demands for a new bride every day but will have her killed before the dawn. Having hatred for Khalid for marrying her best friend and having her killed the next morning, Shahrzad comes up with a plan to seek her revenge for her best friend and all the other girls who were Khalid's victims. However, things don't go exactly as she had wanted. With Khalid being different than what she had expected, and with her own lover, Tariq, planning to save her, Shahrzad faces decisions she never thought she ever had to make.

The writing in this book is both impressive and difficult at the same time. It is impressive in ways that lets you understand the characters through their thoughts and maybe even feel attached to them. However, it can be difficult because of the setting of the story itself. It's mainly set in the ancient Arabian kind of setting; somewhat medieval but more in the Arabian culture. At first, I thought it was going to be centered around Muslims because almost all of the characters' names are Arabic; Khalid, Jalal, Tariq, Rahim etc. After a while, I realised that it's either set in an entirely different world to ours(because there is magic), or it's set centuries before Islam or religion arrived in the Arab lands. There is even belief in the Greek gods, and some cross-culture between Arabian and Greek traditions, which is just spectacular to read about.

The difficulty i found while reading this book is the many specific or traditional words being used to describe certain items or people. I'm assuming they're in the Arabic language, but I hadn't realised that there was a glossary attached at the end of the book so throughout the first half, I had trouble properly imagining what the items looked like at first because of this. Other than that, people who may not be familiar with Arabic names may get very confused for a few chapters while getting used to the many strange names. It may even get a bit demotivating to continue because it takes effort to keep up with who was who, especially because the author loves to mention the characters' full name almost every time they are mentioned, so it makes it harder to remember.

However, I loved the way the author described everything; the people, the clothes, the food. Especially the food. It may have been difficult at first because of the Arabic vocabulary but after a while it was easier to imagine. The tradition described in the book is so rich and so spectacular.

The story is told in many perspectives, but the main point of view is Sharhzad's. She is quite a likable  character in my opinion, minus the fact that she can get a teeny bit annoying with her indecisiveness. She's badass in a sassy way with words and will, which is awesome. My favourite POV would have to be Khalid's i think, even though there aren't very many of his views. I enjoyed reading his thoughts which can be very deep and very romantic. Also, i realised that the characters talk quite formally to each other most of the time through dialogues. This was quite refreshing, especially knowing that the story was not set in modern times.

One of the things I like about the book is the romance. The romance isn't the typical cheesy ones; it's the deep,serious stuff. That was rather surprising. I was very impressed at how the romance developed, because the way it started is not at all normal compared to the many romance stories I have read. I also like that the romance did not have to associate too much with physical attraction, but also with the wonder of one's personality.

I also like the many short stories being told by Shahrzad in the book. They were very interesting, especially because they were analogous to parts of the book itself, which was cool when you realise the metaphors.

One thing lacking in the story is some more backstory about Shahrzad's best friend, Shiva. If Shahrzad's revenge had really been about avenging her friend, then I was not fully convinced. I needed to read more about their friendship, about why it had meant so much to Shahrzad and why their bond was so important. The story kind of just skips this whole thing. It would have made the premise more convincing and emotional, and all the indecisiveness by Shahrzad wouldn't feel as annoying and repetitive.

***SPOILER SECTION***

Oh my, i did not expect to like Khalid so much. I knew he had good reasons for killing all his brides, but i didn't think he would be so likable. The many things he had to sacrifice, the horrible past he had to live with, and the decisions he always had to make. It was all such a heavy burden for a single person that I couldn't help but feel for him. And in the end when he got separated from Shahrzad ohmygod what even. Just as he allowed himself to be happy, it was taken away from him and the worst part was that he knew he deserved it, and for Shahrzad's sake he was making himself live with it. I got a bit emotional reading the letters he wrote for the family of his brides.

Oh God i hate Tariq. I wanted to like him, and i do understand why he did everything that he did. I appreciated that he loved Shazi so much to want to save her and everything, but no. No, Tariq, no. You do not interrupt such a perfect couple, no! I hate that he thinks he knows Shazi so well.

Jalal is one of my favourite characters. He is such a sweetheart, I love how he really believes Shahrzad and trusts her fully. I love how he can see that she loves Khalid and Khalid loves her and isn't afraid to voice it out to his king. Him being the Captain of the Guard and all is quite attractive too. I wish there had been more story to his and Despina's love affair, but perhaps the author could write a spin-off story thing for that later. It broke my heart when he told Tariq to make sure Shazi never returns, because he realises that it is what will keep her safe and because he loves his king. Ahhh, Jalal.

I think the side story with Tariq and Jahandar and everything were almost irrelevant. I mean, Shahrzad's father could have just stopped wanting to avenge his daughter if Shazi had just sent word to him that she was actually happy living in the palace. She didn't need anyone to come for her, and didn't want to. The whole interference just ruins everything, and now a whole war is on it's way when it could have been avoided easily. This may sound silly but communication really is a huge problem there, it seems. However, i understand that this was perfect for the author to have a premise set for her sequel for this saga. Honestly i have no idea how she could write more than a sequel but i guess we'll find out next year when the next book is published.


***END OF SPOILER SECTION***

I would recommend this book for Young Adult lovers who are into romance and fantasy, but not if you are uncomfortably unfamiliar with the Arabian vocabulary(including names of people and places). If you're willing to give it a shot then fantastic, but just don't keep your expectations high and perhaps you would enjoy this book a lot more. I can't say that The Wrath and The Dawn deserves the hype it's getting, but i can say that it's quite an enjoyable read and quite a refreshing YA book.


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if a house is made from a thousand bricks, then let me be one of those bricks, to help keep the house together, to make a significant difference.

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Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.
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