So, when I started this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. All I knew was that a lot of people really liked this book and the plot seemed interesting.
At first I thought everyone had lied to me or that this just wasn’t the book for me because I did not enjoy it. For the first 170 pages, I honestly was not enjoying this book. It almost felt like a chore to get through it. I didn’t care about Tariq or Jahandar, so when chapters popped up dedicated to their POV, I found myself wanting to skip it entirely, but knowing I couldn’t because they were most likely important to the plot. Shahrzad and Khalid’s parts were interesting, but still not grabbing my attention. A part of me feels like a lot of this had to do with the fact that Renee Ahdieh takes her time setting up the story, which isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t make for an exciting, attention grabbing beginning. The other thing is I’m quite ignorant of the culture that is depicted in this book so it was sometimes hard to follow and it also took me forever to realize there was a glossary in the back to help me understand, so once I found that, it helped me understand a lot better.
WARNING SPOILERS BELOW
BUT once I got past those first 170 pages, the story started to pick up. I really loved the journey Renee Ahdieh takes you on. From Shahrzad’s journey from hatred, to understanding, to compassion, and eventually to love. To see how her views and feelings on Khalid change as the story progresses was fascinating to read. I loved how Renee Ahdieh didn’t make Shahrzad instantly fall in love with Khalid. She felt so many complex emotions for him throughout the book. I think great illustrations of this are when she finds herself willing to go to bed with him and hating herself for it, when she finds the letters he never sent to the families of the girls he’d killed before Shahrzad, and when she finally finds out why he kills all his brides.
Khalid’s journey was just as fascinating to read about and I was glad that we were able to see his POV as well, that this wasn’t just Shahrzad’s story, even though she’s the main character. The guilt, but acceptance of what he has to do and then the eventual love he feels for Shahrzad was interesting to read. The scene that shocked me when it came to Khalid was when he brought a dagger to Shahrzad and knelled before her, letting her get the revenge she so desperately wanted in the beginning of the book. The fact that Renee Ahdieh showed us that Khalid wasn’t this soulless monster we were made to believe in the beginning of the book was just done so well.
I did enjoy the rest of the characters in the book, although I did struggle to like/care about Tariq and Jahandar in the beginning, but by the end I realized how important both of them are to the plot. I really enjoyed the story that we didn’t get to really see between Despina and Jalal. I would love to read more about that relationship.
Lastly I want to talk about Renee Ahdieh writing. She does such a good job at telling you a compelling story. Like I said above, it did take me awhile to get fully invested in the story, but that in no way means her writing is bad. In retrospect, it was actually good that she started so slow. She gives you that time to build to the drama, but also build on the blossoming relationship between Shahrzand and Khalid, plus both of their changing feelings for each other. She’s also really good at describing things that paints you a clear picture of what’s happening. Like I said above because of my cultural ignorance, I did struggle a bit to understand some things, but that doesn’t mean that she did a bad job at trying to help me, as the reader, get a good grasp on this world and these characters.
Overall, I did end up really enjoying this book and didn’t want it to end. I will most definitely being picking up the next book because I desperately need to know what happens next. I would give The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a different kind of love story.