Title: The Wrath & The Dawn (The Wrath & The Dawn #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Retellings
*This book also counts for my Celadon City: Rainbow Badge for #Readthemallthon (yes, I’m still doing it!)
I haven’t been surprised by a book in awhile. Maybe I’ve been expecting one thing and got another…maybe I thought the book wouldn’t be as good (or bad) as it was. But this book blew my mind. I kept thinking that a retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights couldn’t possibly result in any love. The guy kills his brides for crying out loud! But…once again…I was surprised. Good surprised.
Sharhzhad volunteers to marry the Caliph, Khalid: the King of the country. She knows she will die, but she wants revenge. The King has been marrying the women of the city and has been executing them at dawn, creating civil unrest. Every oghy a new bride, and every morning an execution. Shazi volunteers because she is trying to avenge Shiva, a close friend that was killed as one of the many brides. She has a plan…if only she can execute it before she is executed.
The first night she tells Khalid story, and as we are familiar with the tale, the story doesn’t end at sunrise. As upset as the King is, he allows one more night. The next night as she finishes the story, it bleeds into a new one, prompting the King to get suspicious. As the guards come that second morning, and Shazi struggles to explain she has more of the story to tell, the King proclaims Shazi not to be hurt; she is now the queen. Shazi is relieved and knows she now can try to exact revenge…but what nags at her are the questions people have already been asking: why has the King been killing his brides at dawn? What secret is he protecting? Sometimes he seems so guarded as a “boy-King,” but other times she sees beneath the veil over his amber eyes and finds a troubled soul. Can Shazi keep herself on her mission to destroy this monster? Or will Shazi be taken in and fall for the most dangerous man in the Kingdom?
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
I think it is ok. It’s rich with history and describes the beauty of a world we never get to read about: the historical Middle East. Magic and beauty are abundant. Curses are real. Carpets…can fly? Aladdin is the only peek at what has been a neglected area of the world. Hostilities now in the region do not detract from the rich cultural references we learn in Ahdieh’s book. Lexile.com rates it as High-Low (more mature subject matter…probably due to a suggestive scene or two) score of 690L (HL690L). Now, for the classroom activities, there are abundant vocabulary words and cultural references. So much can be done! The stories Shazi tells could be used as writing prompts, and the secret Khalid is keeping could be speculated. This book is rich with possibility! I could write a lesson plan now using it. And I think I’m going to keep it in my arsenal of books to use when I’m able to create a unit plan on Retellings of classics/fairy tales.
They recommend 14-17 as their usual “go-to” age group, but I think you could go as low as 13. The “suggestive” scenes are really only hints; there is no sex stated, but is implied. But we do cut out before things get hot and heavy. And there is no swearing. So I wouldn’t see a problem letting ages 13 and up read this book. I would be all right with my niece reading it. That says a lot to me when it comes to reading material for younger ages.
I know this has been a popular raring as of late for me, but I give The Wrath & The Dawn ★★★★★! I know…I’m just having a good book streak. And because the next book is also overdue, I’m going to read that one right away. So I’ll be following up this review with the sequel. I recommend this to everyone: it shows deep character profiles and rich history…it shows the complexities of the human heart. It makes me wonder if someone who does bad for good reasons is still a bad person (I’m not going to give more of this book away…you just have to read it!). I now almost am willing to see if a retelling of Bluebeard could have a complex character, too…though I did read a book that references that fairy tale (I can’t remember the name), but it definitely made me feel for the “bad guy.” You’ll have to read this one and tell me if you felt for Khalid.
Warning: there is a love triangle. Isn’t there always? But it’s not done poorly. I’d like to know, btw, where all these guys are that fall in love with the same woman and fight over her. Never happened to me…I think both guys would say, “Deuces,” and leave me out in the cold. So I do t find it believable for a real-life situation…but it does make for good reading, doesn’t it? Gotta heighten the conflict: if boy simply got girl, wouldn’t that be boring? Lol.