A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wrath & the Dawn is the first of a two-book series that combines elements of the "1001 Nights" (or "Arabian Nights") within a fantasy love story. Here the caliph's bride and storyteller is Shahrzad not Scheherazade. She manages to survive when dozens of girls have already been hung at dawn, but is almost hung. There are animal sacrifices for magic and fights with swords and arrows that kill and injure with some talk of blood spewed. A man drags his own throat across a blade to avoid being captured alive or made to talk. Sadness in characters' pasts include the fact that the caliph's mother was killed in front of him when he was 6 after she was accused of adultery, a pregnancy loss, and a hanging suicide. The caliph and Shahrzad have sex with some description of kisses and clothes removed. The worst the language gets is "bastard son of a whore." Readers will like Shahrzad. She's a strong female character who makes a huge transformation from a place of hatred and revenge to empathy and love.
What's the story?
In THE WRATH & THE DAWN, against the wishes of her family and her first love, Tariq, Shahrzad sneaks away to marry the caliph and exact her revenge against him. He's a monster who killed her best friend and dozens more girls the day after they married him. While Shahrzad works out the caliph's weaknesses, she needs a plan to stay alive. She decides to tell him a continuous string of stories that will keep the caliph engaged through the wedding night and for many more. As she planned, the story of a thief with a genie lamp intrigues her new husband -- but not as much as Shahrzad's confident and assertive nature does. He orders the guards to stand down and lets her live another day, and then another. It's time she uses to sleuth around the palace. Her new husband is an accomplished swordsman and smarter and more astute than she expected. He's also more vulnerable and even more likeable than she expected, and he's full of secrets Shahrzad wants to uncover more and more just to understand him than for revenge. As Shahrzad begins to waiver in her murderous convictions, Tariq arrives at the palace in an entourage of emirs determined to help Shahrzad kill the caliph. It forces Shahrzad to decide whose side she's on.
Is it any good?
With "1001 Nights" as the inspiration, this magic-tinged tale only had to be a little melodramatic and escapist to draw in the romance fans, but it's so much better than that. Shahrzad is a fabulous character full of strength and brave intentions. She's very believable as a survivor and someone who would seek out the kind of trouble she's in. The caliph's secrets and the softening of Shahrzad's heart also roll out in a steady and believable way. First-time author Renee Ahdieh has a knack for good story pacing and well-placed character reflection. It's pretty hard to take a character from seething hatred to love in a few hundred pages without the readers scratching their heads a little. Ahdieh manages this challenge well.
The story stays so focused on the romance, though, that the subplots lack some depth. Shahrzad's father flits in and out of the story as a mystery figure more than the force he ends up to be. And Tariq's side of the story is more banter with his friend Rahim than true understanding of who he is beyond a handsome guy with good archery skills. These are mere quibbles in an otherwise big success for a first-time author. From the looks of The Wrath & the Dawn, readers have much to look forward to from Ahdieh.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about revenge in The Wrath & the Dawn. How does this need for vengance help Shahrzad in the beginning? When does it become a burden?
What else can you find out about the classic "1001 Nights"? Where would you look?
What do you think will happen to Shahrzad and the caliph in Book 2? What clues do you have about what will happen next?
- Author: Renee Ahdieh
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, History, Horses and Farm Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: May 12, 2015
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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