THE WRATH AND THE DAWN
By: Renée Ahdieh
Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️’s
I haven’t read too many books so far this year, but TWATD is now officially #1. To say I have fallen in love would be an understatement. MY LIFE HAS OFFICIALLY CHANGED FOREVER AND I’M NOT COMPLAINING.
I’m terrible at writing non-spoiler reviews, so I’m going to insert some screenshots of my reactions on Goodreads and Twitter 🙂
So yeah…I’m half dead right now while I’m writing this. (The rest of this is spoilery!)
I absolutely fell in love with Renee Ahdieh’s writing style! It’s simplistic and to the point where it needs to be, and beautifully descriptive and emotional everywhere else. Honestly, this is my favourite combination when it comes to writing. I’m not a fan of super flowery and poetic books – mostly because I spend more time trying to figure out what all the metaphors mean, instead of enjoying the actual story. TWATD was just perfect in every way 😍
Does anyone else want to live in Rey’s tiered gardens, cause I do??!!! I definitely had flashbacks of Babylon’s Hanging Gardens 🙌🏼 I’m absolutely obsessed with the world that Renee has created! The culture, the food, the clothing, the mostly POC characters… it just made me so happy!! I don’t mind reading books with all white characters, but it’s nice to see myself represented every once in a while. While I’m not Persian, there are many aspects of Persian culture that are so similar to Pakistani culture. The signs of respect towards someone who is older, the RICE, the beautiful bejewelled clothing…
Besides all of that, I liked the subtle hints of magic. It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but it started to grow in terms of importance towards the end, and I really enjoyed that! I’m excited to see more of Shazi’s powers and also see what happens to her father and Khalid’s curse.
Shazi has to be my favourite character ever! She’s stubborn, confident, and strong-willed. She’s also independent and doesn’t need no man to protect her! I love how out-spoken and honest she is, and how adamant and forward she can be. It’s all the best qualities you would want in a female character and really reminded me of Tamora Pierce’s characters 😁
Her relationship with Khalid is just 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
I loved everything about her hate-to-love relationship! Some of you may know that I’m very picky when it comes to romance, but this worked so well that I was literally DEAD for most of the book! Guys…THE FEELS WERE SO OVERWHELMING I COULDN’T BREATHE 😭😭😭
I also liked how consistent Shazi’s character was and how much she struggled with her feelings throughout the book. It felt realistic and was maddening at times, but in a good way! That scene when Khalid gave Shazi the dagger, killed me 😭💔 And afterwards, when he was saying goodbye and Shazi was like “THAT IS NOT THE WAY I WANT TO SAY GOODBYE” and she runs to him and kisses him, and the guards are shocked, and Jalal is just standing there smirking… 😩❤️🙌🏼 I HAD TO BE RESUSCITATED
I knew, going into the book, that Khalid would have a dark past that would probably remain a secret till the end of the book. And I knew that his reason for killing all of those girls was definitely not because he’s a monster. It was so interesting reading from his perspective and seeing what he was going through. I definitely pieced together his past while reading the book (plus the novellas), but the scene where Shazi sees his letters to the dead girls’ families, and when Khalid finally tells her everything is so heartbreaking and sad, that my poor cold heart cried 😩😭
The ending was so bittersweet. Khalid accepting that he would probably never see Shazi again and that it was for the better, and that he had a duty towards his people which he had neglected before…it was so sad 😢 I feel like both Shazi and Khalid were willing to accept the consequences of their actions, but neither of them were expecting something this horrible to happen. Or they thought they could avoid or fix it before it got worse. The destruction of Rey was a wake up call for both of them. Khalid realized that his people came first, because as their King, they looked up to and depended on him. And Shazi realized that there was a lot more going on outside of Rey, all because of her choice to marry Khalid. In the end, they are both just “one boy and one girl”. I’m excited to see what happens next, even though they won’t be together for probably part of TRATD.
JALAL and DESPINA:
If you’ve read The Moth and the Flame, which is a novella that takes place prior to TWATD, you’ll know what I mean when I say that Jalal and Despina’s relationship is just ASDFGHHJKL in the best way possible! 😍😍😍 I just want to protect my smol children (and their baby). I really want to see more of both in the next book.
Speaking of Jalal. I absolutely love how he contrasts with Khalid’s character. He’s funny, charismatic, and annoying in the best way! I love how much he cares for his cousin and how hard he tries to be there for Khalid even though Khalid pushes him away. He reminds me a bit of Neal from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series, but I’m also getting Cassian vibes from ACOMAF, which pretty much describes Jalal exactly 😂 I know this is a review for TWATD, but if you haven’t read The Moth and the Flame, you NEED too cause it’ll make you squeal and fan yourself till you’re dead.
I absolutely loved Despina’s character! And she reminds me so much of Mor from ACOMAF, that I swear SJM’s inspiration for a lot of her characters came from this book. I love her dedication towards Shazi, and their friendship was so perfect! Also, she’s such a flirt and I love that! And she’s Greek…you guys may or may not know how obsessed I am with Alexander the Great 😂 I’m really curious to see if Jalal tells Despina that he knows that she is pregnant. I have a feeling he won’t and is going to wait for her to tell him instead, and I hope there’s a scene in TRATD for that!
I swear, for someone who didn’t like ACOMAF at all, I mention it waaay too much. The Rajput or Vikram, is literally Azriel. I loved his quiet presence throughout the book. He doesn’t say much, but you can tell he does care about Khalid and Shazi. That look he gave Shazi when she stepped out of her room the night of the feast was just 🤗 But, THE ENDING…I hope to God he isn’t actually dead…the arrow in his chest and everything 😭 If he’s actually dead, I’m going to be devastated. When his real name was revealed, I got so excited because I felt like we’d be learning more about him for sure! So I’m going to remain hopeful.
TARIQ AND CO. and the REBELLION:
Tariq is a complicated character. And I know many people hate him, but I’m kind of stuck in between. I don’t blame him for his actions. Tariq makes his decisions based on his heart and not so much his brain. He’s rash and impatient, and doesn’t like to wait for things to happen. He seizes opportunities where he sees them, whether or not they’re actually good.
I really liked Shazi and Tariq’s relationship – at least the bit that we were told about them. It was cute and I could see why they fell in love. I’ve read reviews where some people said that Shazi fell in love with Khalid too quickly and pretty much forgot about Tariq completely. I don’t exactly believe that. I feel like Shazi went into the whole marriage with Khalid realizing that she was going to end up dead anyway – either the following morning, or when she did manage to kill Khalid, she would probably be executed. I think in Shazi’s mind, her relationship with Tariq was over either way. She still had feelings for him, but I think it was more “feelings of constancy”, then feelings of love.
I totally understand Tariq’s confusion. He believes that Shazi must have Stockholm’s Syndrome. He believes that Shazi has been tricked or brainwashed in someway and everything will change once she’s back with him. I don’t necessarily see this in a bad way. Tariq’s feelings for Shazi overpower his ability to accept the truth of what he sees. It’s consistent with his character. I don’t like how he doesn’t give Shazi a choice in the matter – that isn’t excusable. But I also understand how he is feeling.
Rahim’s character wasn’t mentioned a whole lot. He seems to do everything Tariq says, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I want to see him branch out and be his own self. He’s the voice of reason that Tariq ignores, but he’s also very loyal towards Tariq. I liked how there wasn’t a weird love triangle b/w him and Tariq. He was friends with Shazi, and as a friend, he wanted to protect her. I really hope we see more of his character in the next book.
The whole plot to get Shazi back and how that ended up intertwining with the King of Parthia was so well done! I think neither Tariq nor Uncle Reza realized how big this whole rebellion idea would get, and I think everyone is in for a surprise. I highly doubt the King of Parthia wants to let Tariq rule Rey in his stead…
Jahandar, Shazi’s father, was also a very interesting character. I understand his motivations and I’m making predictions already. The book he is using to focus his magic through, is probably the same book that Ava’s father used to enact the curse…at least that’s what I think. So the book is in a way acting through Jahandar to follow through with the original curse. I think I’m right, but I’m excited to see what happens. Jahandar’s story is really sad. I understand why he decided to turn towards dark magic, but I’m really hoping he redeems himself somehow by the end, without dying 🙈
THE ONE PROBLEM:
The only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars, is because of one issue I had at the beginning of the book. It’s something that I haven’t seen anyone talk about, besides Christine, so I thought I would address it here.
In the very beginning of the book, Khalid and Shazi sleep together while Shazi still hates Khalid. Now there are a few issues here. The issue of consent being the main one. But there’s also quite a few reasons for why this happened too.
Shazi mentions that during the “ordeal” (lol that’s what I’m going to call it), she was surprised at how she managed to kind of transcend what was happening. Which tells me that she didn’t really want this in the first place. But at the same time, she did kind of initiate the whole thing. I understand her reasoning. She says in the book, “She could see him withdrawing, a veil falling over the harsh angles of his profile”. So she wanted him to stay, so she could tell him her story and find out his weakness.
But…Khalid went through with it. Shazi did make it clear that that was what she wanted (even though she didn’t like it), but Khalid agreed with it even though he never went to any of the other girls he had murdered. At the same time, I understand why he might have gone through with it. He also wanted to understand why Shazi had volunteered to die, and I guess he thought that if he got close enough to her, Shazi would tell him.
In a way, both of them were doing something to get something out of it. The issue of consent is kind of in a grey area. Shazi said that he didn’t seem to get any pleasure out of it, and Shazi, herself, didn’t like it either. But since Shazi initiated, was Khalid wrong in accepting? I don’t know. Also, the second night, they do it again. And this time the book doesn’t say what happened before. Who initiated that time? Or was it just something they did cause they did the night before?? Because it was part of their duty as husband and wife?? This kind of frustrated me. I wanted to forget about it and move past it to everything else, but at the same time this isn’t something to be brushed away too lightly. I wish Renee Ahdieh addressed this more in the book.
For those of you who’ve read this book, tell me what you think about this. I’m really curious to know your thoughts.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book! It’s the best book I’v read so far this year and I can’t wait to finally pick up The Rose and the Dagger! I’ve forced myself to finish this review before starting it, so now that this is done, I can finally continue and see what happens next!