If you’ve read my other book recommendations, you probably know that I really enjoy YA fantasy, including folktale re-imaginings. Some examples: Monstrous, The Lunar Chronicles, Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and The Orphan Queen.
Today’s post is no exception. Renee Ahdieh‘s The Wrath and the Dawn (on the shelves 5/12) has all the elements of a great fantasy: magic, a tyrannical villain, a strong, yet conflicted, heroine, a thrilling and suspenseful plot, amazing world-building, power struggles, moral dilemmas, and complicated romance.
It is also inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Every evening eighteen-year-old Khalid, the ruler of Khorasan, takes a new bride whom he executes at dawn. After he kills her best friend, sixteen-year-old Shahrzad (Shazi) leaves the man she loves and volunteers to marry Khalid. She knows she probably won’t live past the first night, but she wants to stay alive long enough to take revenge. Fortunately, Shazi is clever, witty, and able to captivate Khalid with her storytelling–which saves her life.
But her mission becomes more complicated than staying alive. As days turn into weeks and Shazi gets to know Khalid better, she has trouble seeing him as a monster. She wonders why he’s been killing his wives at dawn. As she struggles to understand him, her beliefs and loyalties are tested, and she unwillingly falls for him. But what about her beloved boyfriend Tariq? And if she loves Khalid, can she still kill him?
Let’s talk about Shazi’s complicated romance. It’s difficult these days to write about star-crossed lovers in a fresh and compelling way. Many readers detest a love triangle and having “a heroine fall in love with her enemy” is cliched too. But like the other YA fantasy books I’ve recommended, The Wrath and the Dawn generally avoids being stereotypical because Shazi is a tough heroine. Like Sarah J. Maas’s Celaena or Feyre, and Jodi Meadow’s Wil, she’s strong-willed, confident, bold, snarky, knows how to fight, and is willing to sacrifice her own life for what she believes is a greater good. I think it’s safe to say that if “love triangles” or “star-crossed lovers” haven’t bothered you in other popular YA fantasy, you’ll really enjoy this book!
Alyssa Raymond is a YA blogger for Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks Edelweiss and the publisher for providing her with an ARC of this book for review purposes; her opinions are her own. Please follow Spellbinding Books on Twitter and Tumblr. Thanks!