“Shahrzad is a difficult girl, and I am a monster. I suppose that makes for a good match.”
Published: May 12, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 418 (Kindle)
Series: The Wrath & The Dawn #1
In her ear, he whispered, “Do better than this, Shazi. My queen is without limitations. Boundless in all that she does. Show them.”
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?
Trigger Warning: Mentions of miscarriage, suicide, murder
I literally cannot believe I waited so long to read this duology! This had been on my TBR since it’s release but after seeing some of my favorite bookstagrammers rave about it recently I decided to put in a library hold. It was so lush, vivid, exciting, and sexy. It’s the perfect mix of a romance tale with a dash of fantasy and magic, it was exactly what I needed to finish off my July reads!
The story centers around Shahrzad who, after losing her best friend to the boy king’s morning murder ritual, volunteers to be his next wife regardless of the danger it poses. She goes into the palace planning to beguile the Caliph with stories every evening with the hopes that she’ll stay alive… or stay alive long enough to kill him. But there are secrets and seductions all throughout the palace and when Shazi finds herself falling in love with the murderous king, everything is thrown out of orbit.
I honestly wasn’t sure about this one initially and I thought the first like 25 pages or so were kind of flat, so I really considered putting it aside. I’m glad I didn’t though, because once it picked up it was impossible for me to put it down! I read this in a total of three days and the sequel in two! The basis of this is a love story, don’t let anyone fool you. It’s very much fade to black scenes (of which there are only like two, maybe) but the real steam comes from just the way Shazi and Khalid interact with one another. The way Khalid admires her, defers to her in some situations, and is deeply in love with her. I was positively swooning at some moments, squealing with delight when he spoke to her. Those little endearments he uses? The way he expresses his love without just saying “I love you”? The way he’s literally always ready to kill for her? I DIE. Ya girl loves a good anti-hero… the badder the better!
While this love story is unfolding, there are a lot of other things happening like court intrigue, the hunt for the story behind why all the girls must die at dawn, the simmering romance between Despina (the handmaiden) and Jalal (the captain of the guard), not to mention all that’s transpiring between Tariq (Shazi’s first love) and her father. The magic is an undercurrent through the whole story, popping up here and there, mentioned sporadically. The magic really centers around Shazi’s father, but there is more and more magic entwined in the later half of the novel.
Overall this was a really fast paced YA romance with some really interesting magical undercurrents. I adore novels set in the Middle East or have Aladdin type vibes, so the setting and inspiration were just cherries on the top of this story for me. It’s very well written for (what I believe) is her debut novel, and after the first two dozen pages or so it really flies by, the pace never slowing for a moment.
If you’ve had this on your TBR for years, like me, I cannot recommend it enough! Bump that baby up in your list! You won’t be disappointed!
P.S. this is also been converted into a beautifully done comic on WebToons that you can read for FREE on their app! It’s not even halfway through the book yet so you can’t binge, but it’s so well done!
The Wrath & The Dawn Duology