Series: The Wrath and The Dawn #1
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling
Page Length: 388 Pages
Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Source: ARC via friend (thanks Dawn!)
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
Each day the Caliph of Khorasan weds a new girl and then at dawn she is executed with a silk cord wrapped tightly around her neck. Shahrzad's best friend Shiva succumbs to this fate, and in revenge Shahrzad offers herself as the next bride. She aims to kill the Caliph and avenge her friend's death. She tells stories to the Caliph and manages an impossible feat, she lives to see the next day. And the next. And the next. Slowly she starts to fall in love with the Caliph, Khalid, and realizes that everything is not as it seems and everything she thought might be completely wrong.
I love the setting of this book above all. It's a Middle Eastern/Arabian flair that's wonderfully depicted. Renee incorporates such rich culture and customs into her book from the food to the decorum, the speech to the costume, the tales to the geography. She supplies us with new words and a wonderful glossary. She gives savory descriptions of food. This book is big on sensory details.
Shahrzad (Shazi) is witty and smart and bold. I love her character and the bravery she possesses. Unlike most protagonists, Shazi is not indecisive. She's clear minded and makes quick decisions. She's not one to daly. Khalid is mysterious and elusive. He's thoughtful and caring behind his icy facade. Jalal and Despina are wonderful comic relief, the rest of the cast, although small, all have redeeming qualities.
The romance in this book was beautiful. It developed so slowly and their love transcends the clouds. Shazi and Khalid have such a unique relationship. It's so strong and beautiful, I was rooting for them the whole time. Khalid had a bleak, loveless childhood and Shazi is the perfect person to cheer him up and love him. Khalid checks Shazi's brash and reckless nature. They're like puzzle pieces, they just fit together so well! They are definitely one of my top OTPs. They have amazing chemistry, and their scenes together make me smile all the time. Their relationship reminds me of fire and ice. The romance is intoxicating and smoldering and everything you could possibly want.
The plot is unique and great. Although there's not much action, there are definitely lots of seeds planted in this novel that will blossom into bigger issues to come. The romance and Khalid's secrets are the main focuses of this novel, yet big things are to come. The writing was wonderful, it matched the setting perfectly. The ending was fantastic yet heartbreaking. I need book 2!
Renee's debut is engaging and enchanting, I highly recommend this book!