The Wrath and the Dawn has all the elements of an amazing story. It has a strong heroine, intriguing plot,Actual rating is somewhere around 3.5 stars.
The Wrath and the Dawn has all the elements of an amazing story. It has a strong heroine, intriguing plot, moral ambiguity, a complex cast of characters that inspire all sorts of internal emotional turmoil. Basically, set phasers to LET ME LOVE YOU. Even for those like me who haven't read A Thousand and One Nights, can appreciate the rich setting and visually stunning descriptions. And I can't tell you how happy I am to say that I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn and I'm hoping many of my friends will give it a chance.
Sharhrzad (Shazi), desperate to avenge her best friend's murder, decides to volunteer as tribute to be the next wife of the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid. He's known as a ruthless ruler, who kills all his wives at dawn the day after he weds. Why is a mystery to everyone including Shazi, who really doesn't care either way, and I don't blame her. Of course, as the reader can surmise from the synopsis, there's something more going on than meets the eye. As Shazi gets to know Khalid, she learns he's not what she thought he'd be and is conflicted that she finds it increasingly difficult to hate him, and more importantly, to kill him. And while that is all going on, we have Tariq, who, for all intents and purposes, was Shazi's boyfriend/betrothed before she took on the suicidal task of killing the Caliph. He struggles with his own feelings of Shazi's impending death (really, no one expected her to live to see the day after her wedding night) and is determined to rescue her at all costs. Little does he know, Shazi falls in love with Khalid and things get a little... messy.
Told in a 3rd person point-of-view, The Wrath and the Dawn seeks to cover a lot of story, which it both succeeds and fails at. I'm not usually a fan of 3rd person because it makes me feel detached from the characters and their feelings, but in this case, it worked out well for me. The reader is able to get a good feel on all the characters' intentions and struggles, and that's a feat consider how many characters are introduced over the course of this novel.
The downside to this is that I wasn't able to fully connect with any characters on an emotional level, let alone the romance, because it simply didn't get much page time. For that reason, I would have preferred for this book to have been longer OR less page time for the supporting cast for at least the first half so that I could see Shazi and Khalid's interactions more. I didn't have enough build up to have the emotional response lines like these should have set off:
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
“Love is—a shade of what I feel.”
Believe me when I say these were beautiful scenes, but I didn't swoon, and that makes me rather sad. Currently, the romance is getting huge praise from other reviewers, so your milage may vary, but, I felt it lacked a certain spark.
The writing itself is very lovely and flows in a magical fashion befitting the setting of the novel. Ahdieh's set the perfect tone with her descriptions and the dialogue was both thought provoking and witty a good portion of the time. Some of my favorite lines came from Despina, Shazi's handmaiden:
“We women are a sad lot, aren't we?" "What do you mean?" "Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us." "I am not a fool." "No, you're not. Not yet.”
This is probably why 3rd person worked so well in The Wrath and the Dawn. The characters and their interactions always felt genuine and personable and not flat like cardboard. They weren't always likable, especially Khalid with his tug-a-war like personality, but he was consistently complex. I would guess that my feelings toward him mirrored Shazi's frustration at his lack of trust. He spends much of his time trying to atone for what he's done, but can't bring himself to fully trust her with his secret and the reason behind the deaths of his previous wives.
Yet, while beautiful and lush in its own right, The Wrath and the Dawn is not without its faults. You do have your obligatory mentions of the love interest's eyes and how the female main character seems to be the only one to ever truly bring the love interest out of his broken shell. The former is what bothered me the most throughout the novel simply because I couldn't really see what it was about Shazi that he was drawn to. Was it her snarky bluntness? Her beauty? The fact that he didn't understand why she volunteered to be his wife, knowing what her fate would be? I have no idea. I was also a bit surprised (and disappointed?) that Shazi's only plan to survive the dawn was to tell the Caliph a story and deliberately end it on a cliffhanger as the sun rose to generate anticipation from Khalid. Well, okay. It certainly gives new meaning to stories having power, that's for sure. [Again, I haven't read A Thousand and One Nights]
Then there were times when Shazi felt deliberately obtuse when it came to Khalid and his secrets. When there were multiple attempts on her life and Khalid himself jumps to save her and reprimand those who tried to do her bodily harm, she still continues to blame him for the attempts. That seemed odd and out of character for Shazi since she is written as very observant and sharp. To her credit, she does start to question happenings shortly after, but this misstep felt too contrived and forced.
The final 30% is where this novel truly shined for me since all chips are laid out on the table and characters' true intentions are revealed. I admit to being pleasantly surprised and saddened by one in particular. The stakes will definitely be higher in the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger and I look forward to seeing things get complicated. Also, I'm really hoping for a magic carpet ride.
All in all, The Wrath and the Dawn is a strong start to a promising new series. The pros in the novel far outweigh the small cons, which could admittedly be attributed to my cynical mind and lack of a functioning heart. Don't let that stop you from picking this up.
ARC was received from the author in exchange for review.
Christine Heppermann handles female issues in such a unique and interesting way in Poisoned Apples. Her poetic style is quirky, witty and deeply real,Christine Heppermann handles female issues in such a unique and interesting way in Poisoned Apples. Her poetic style is quirky, witty and deeply real, highlighting numerous problems with gender inequality girls face throughout their pubescent stage into adulthood. Keep in mind, however, that she also somehow manages to infuse these with classic fairy tales we grow up on. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and other themes like Prince Charming are merged with issues such as sex, eating disorders, body image, social pressures, sexism, abuse and more. And as an added bonus we're treated to mesmerizing photographs like this:
For the most part, I really felt like I could identify with many of the poems in one way or another, especially the ones on body image and the society's outrageous beauty standards for women through use of mainstream media. I love how she questions what beauty is and what it means to be a woman. But I supposed what I liked best was Heppermann's ability to convey these messages in very little words. Take, for example, Photoshopped Poem:
Some say the Before poem had character. This poem is much more attractive. With the Healing Brush Tool I took out most of the lines. I left in a few so it wouldn't look unnatural.
The way the poems are written are so very clever and smart. Some even made me chuckle a bit with her use of sometimes unusual places, phrases and items. Simon Says, the Abercrombie dressing room and even G.I. Joe's all seem to find themselves in the pages of Poisoned Apples. I've found myself re-reading some of my favorites at random times of the day and I seem to take something different away each time.
Also, guys, THAT COVER.
Now, I will says that there were some poems that completely went over my head, but that's mostly my fault for being genuinely terrible at poetry. Alas, even Steph Sinclair has her Kryptonite.
That doesn't change the fact that this tiny book, only 128 pages, is probably one of the most memorable that I've read this year and I want as many of my friends to pick this novel up. It feels like this one could get easily overlooked at a bookstore and that's a real shame because Heppermann's bold style is bound to leave marks and open dialogue. It's not to be missed.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review. No monies were exchanged. More reviews and other other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery....more
I have to give the narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden,some credit here. She tried. She really, really tried to salvage this book by giving the main charactI have to give the narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, some credit here. She tried. She really, really tried to salvage this book by giving the main character tons of personality, but not even she could change the source material. The fact is that Cruel Beauty made absolutely no damn sense.
How does the magic work? I dunno.
Who are the real bad guys? I dunno.
Wait, what's the SECRET. Well, I dunno because Nyx learns it and then FORGETS it on the next page to conveniently keep the plot rolling. Awesome.
HUH? There's time travel? ....Maybe, but not really. It's a SECRET that you'll never find out and/or stop caring about.
Cruel Beauty was like a mixing pot of great ideas that didn't get mixed very well. The oil rose to the top and the cake fell flat. Also, I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, kinda like this book. But the narrator's voice was nice....more
I loved this book and the different spin the cartoonists put on these old stories I grew up on. The artwork is different for every story (17 in total)I loved this book and the different spin the cartoonists put on these old stories I grew up on. The artwork is different for every story (17 in total) and some of them are really funny. Here were a few of my favorites: