The Wrath and the Dawn

Renée Ahdieh's lush debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, is a suspenseful and beautiful reimagining of The Arabian Nights, with an edge--the young bride not only survives her death sentence with captivating tales, but uses the extra days to plot the death of her king.

Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad is targeting the murderous boy-king responsible for her closest confidante's death. Khalid, the 18-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, weds and beds a new bride every night, then sentences each to be hung the following dawn. Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid's latest bride with the aim of avenging her friend's death and protecting others from the same fate. After Shahrzad and Khalid have sex for the first time (graphic details withheld), she captures Khalid's attention with the promise of a tale. Shahrzad's storytelling is so captivating that when she abruptly ends her story on a cliffhanger, Khalid grants her an extra night to live. Shahrzad is the only queen to survive sunrise, throwing the city into speculation: Does the caliph love his new bride? Surprisingly, Shahrzad discovers the boy-king isn't as heartless as he would like his country to believe.

Ahdieh reveals the complexities of her characters through their numerous trials, especially Khalid, struggling to be a ruler and to manage the expectations of a father who has raised his son to be suspicious of women. Secondary characters add further intrigue to the plot. The pace remains swift throughout, thanks to exciting swordplay, the chemistry between Shahrzad and the king she wishes to kill, and great tension as the structure within the country begins to collapse. --Adam Silvera, reviewer and former children's bookseller

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