Ahdieh, Renée. The Wrath and the Dawn. New York: Penguin Random House, 2015. Print.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, wherein Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night, only to have her killed the next morning. Shahrzad’s friend was one of the Caliph’s most recent victims, so she volunteers to be his new wife in hopes of getting the opportunity to kill him. She tells the Caliph stories each night to keep herself alive and bide more time to carry out her plan. The longer she stays alive, the less convinced she is that the Caliph is truly a murderous madman.
Renée Ahdieh, an Asian-American woman (currently living in North Carolina, yay!), has quite a way with words. The writing was very quick to read, but also lyrical. Ahdieh’s writing style was really the main thing that stuck out to me and kept me hooked. In this type of book, you usually know what’s going to happen (SPOILER ALERT: they fall in love), so you need something else to draw you in. The characters were layered, interesting, and diverse. I do wish the Ahdieh had done a slightly better job of laying out the world. I mean, it is a fantasy, but we were stuck inside the Caliph’s palace for the majority of the novel, so I didn’t feel like I had a good idea of what their world was really like. The romance may have been a little much. I was kind of frustrated with Shahrzad for setting aside her quest for vengeance in order to pursue a relationship with Khalid. He had her best friend killed; why did she seem to forget about that so quickly?
I haven’t read One Thousand and One Nights, but we read a few passages and watched a movie adaptation in tenth grade. A book like this – a young adult retelling of a classic story – might have been a great supplementary book to that section of class. The romance may be a bit excessive (not inappropriate, there’s just a lot of it), but I think students would really enjoy it. The cast of characters is quite diverse, and I think modern retellings written for different age groups are great ways to introduce students to classic stories. They could then read the original book and compare the two. There are retellings and reworking of almost every classic book nowadays, some of which are really great, and I’m not sure why teachers don’t incorporate them into their curriculum.
I will likely continue with the series, but probably not for this book pages assignment. I have many more books on my list!