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?
The Wrath and the Dawn, a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, focuses on the characters behind the stories – the storyteller Shahrzad and the listener, Khalid. For months, he has been taking a wife every day, only to have her executed at next dawn. After her friend is one such unlucky girl, she vows to take revenge – to kill him and save any other girl from this fate. She volunteers to become his bride, a move that reminds me immensely of Cruel Beauty, and the stories do share similarities. The bold heroine who marries the monster, hoping for a chance to kill him, only to fall in love with him. Oh, the torture of such a love! Ahdieh brings out emotion and subtle characterization through her descriptive writing, imparting meaning to every glance and gesture. It is brilliantly told, and the book kept me wanting for more, so much that I finished it in one go.
Shazi is a tempest of a girl – the fierce headstrong woman who makes everyone in his court take a second glance. He, too, is enamored by this girl who is not afraid of him, and so agrees to her game of letting her live for another day in exchange for a story. But that soon flies out the window, when his duties come in between, and he has to choose whether to follow his desires or his calling. I think he places an unfair amount of blame on himself, and his self-loathing reaches new heights around her. Shazi, for her part, is intrigued by the secrets he keeps and the fact that he is not what she had imagined for a monster. While the romance is the main focus of the story, there are also other elements shifting in the sidelines, with a kingdom that despises it’s murderous king, and magic that is swirling and which, I feel, will add a whole new dimension to the plot of the sequel.