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The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25

The Moth & the Flame

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It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

26 pages, ebook

First published March 22, 2016

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About the author

Renée Ahdieh

24 books17.5k followers
THE WRATH & THE DAWN and its sequel THE ROSE & THE DAGGER are available wherever books are sold.

FLAME IN THE MIST will be released on 5.16.17.

** Please note that requests for Advanced Reader Copies should be made through Penguin, and all other requests should be submitted through the author's website. **

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,136 reviews
Profile Image for Natalie.
570 reviews3,197 followers
June 5, 2020
This review contains *spoilers* for The Wrath & the Dawn.

And Renée Ahdieh does it again, she managed to make me laugh, tear up, and swoon in just under 6 chapters. Her books are seriously impossible to put down.
I was reading little snippets here and there while working, which honestly wasn’t my brightest idea because I kept thinking of when I could just sit down and read this beautifully written short story. And long story long, it was definitely worth the wait.
Renée gave me exactly what I wanted needed and I loved it!

The Moth & The Flame follows Despina, an aspiring handmaiden to the new Calipha of Khorasan, Ava.
We were first introduced to Ava in The Wrath & the Dawn as Khalid’s first wife that had perished, she was also what started the curse that was cast upon him.
I’m glad that we got to visit Ava in this story because she really was a big part of Khalid’s past that we only heard a little of.

“May I”—Despina took another step forward—“be so bold as to make another suggestion, my lady?”
The calipha smiled, the gesture as simple and unhurried as all her others. “You do not strike me as someone who asks before doing something.”
At that, Despina could not resist a laugh. ”

But the main storyline is around Jalal and Despina. We get to visit their first time meeting and their hilarious interactions.
I said it once and I will say it a hundred times more, Renée Ahdieh is amazing! She writes incredibly loveable characters that will break your heart and then mend it back piece by piece.

“I work all the time,” he insisted, despite another dismissive roll of Despina’s eyes. “And I’d much rather fall to my death than admit a weakness to you.”
“The captain of the Royal Guard wants to impress a lowly handmaiden?”
“A clumsy young man wants to impress a beautiful young woman.” He met her gaze, his dark eyes piercing. “The question is, did it work?”


The banter between those two is outstanding, I hope we’ll get to see more of them in The Rose & the Dagger.
Speaking of, The Rose & the Dagger cannot come any sooner.


*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying The Moth & the Flame, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
August 24, 2016
3.5 stars

Another beautifully written short story from Renee Ahdieh this time about Despina and Jalal, two characters I admire from The Wrath and the Dawn and this story made me adore them both even more. I’m afraid all these love stories are turning me into permanent mush and before that ever happens, I vow that the next book I’ll read after this week will be something really hardcore, really tough with lots of deaths and blood.

P.S. Happy early birthday to my friend, Fatima! Her birthday is on August 26.^^

Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,315 followers
February 9, 2017
Despina and Jalal are so adorable! I loved them so much in The Wrath and the Dawn and this novella made me fall in love with these two even more. These novellas will actually be the death of me because just like The Crown and the Arrow, this one wasn't even close to being long enough. But all the same, I'm relieved that it wasn't only 9 pages like the other.

I'm glad we finally got to see how Despina and Jalal came to be. Ever since we find out about Despina's baby, I was ever so curious as to how the spunky handmaiden was swept off her feet. I was actually afraid that The Moth and the Flame would ruin my likeness of this couple by making their relationship turn to instalove rather than leaving events to the imagination but Renee Ahdieh did not disappoint one bit.

I'm so excited to see what happens to these two in The Rose and the Dagger. Hopefully Renee gives Despina and Jalal their happy ending and not rip our hearts out.
Profile Image for Kassidy.
340 reviews11k followers
June 18, 2016
Loved seeing more of Jalal and Despina!!
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,735 followers
August 23, 2016
The Moth & the Flame

The Maid & El Basha,the high captain of guards..
Despina & Jalal..

That kind of attraction turns into Love that burns..
An elegant,fun,very short prequel love story between 2 beloved characters from the world of The Wrath & the Dawn
I liked the smart wet and fun Despina so much, I already liked her at the first book anyway, and was glad to read how she liked Jalal.

That added some depth into their story..

In other hand It also shows in a side story the First wife for Khaled..Ava. the sweet unfortunate soul who loved arts. and wished to have just alittle bit more care from her busy Caliph, The King..

And "Why" the curse started..the curse that started the whole story after that.
And since the story is Despina's perspective.. she doesn't know the curse..

A very good prequel just too short to be "e-book" to pay for.. Rowling did dozen back stories for free on pottermore.

Mohammed Arabey
8th July 2016

Profile Image for Norah Una Sumner.
855 reviews453 followers
March 30, 2016
3.5 stars

Although these two are my ultimate OTP when it comes to this series/trilogy (or whatever), this short story was a bit underwhelming. Yes, their banter is awesome and they are too wickedly cute to handle but...something was missing. I was expecting a bit more from the plot and that ending. I am looking forward to reading the actual sequel though! Can't wait!

Before reading: OMFG I NEED THIS

Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,755 followers
February 17, 2019
4.4 STARS! hilarious and charming.
“Anything is possible,” Despina finished softly. “So long as there is a strong will behind it.”
I'm all feels for this! It was a worthy addition, I loved the taste of it :)

I suggest reading this short book after The Wrath & the Dawn, as it contains mild spoilers and also because you'd enjoy it more if you already know the characters.
It wouldn't be a huge spoiler if you read this first, but spoilers all the same :)


A hilarious and enjoyable novella set before time Shahrzad came to the marble palace, about our favourite handmaiden, Despina, and the charming captain of the Royal Guard, Jalal.

The Moth & the Flame gives us a look into how things were at the palace before the doomed order went out for girls to become queens at dusk, and murdered each dawn.
He could supposedly charm the skirts off a girl with nothing but sly words and flippant promises.
At the memory of such tales, Despina stifled a laugh.
Impossibly ridiculous. Removing clothing involved a great deal more than words.
At the very least, someone had to unravel something. A knot. A string.
A suggestion.
A precious and amazing tale to saviour the taste of! Definitely a remarkable addition to the story that I swallowed in one huge bite :)


Renée has managed to bewitch me yet again with her writing and enchanting prose.
“There is no way to know for certain what lurks in the shadowed corners of the mind.”
It's beautiful and elegant, flowing, like the waves that make the surface of the sea interesting and the rays of light which play on calm water and reflect the sky, hiding the truth...
He aimed his grin at her. “And here I half expected you to be afraid I might be injured.”
“Not you.” Her lips twitched. “Only the flower. I’m not completely heartless.”
“No,” he agreed. “Only partially.”
And next to all that, it's funny and memorable. I was laughing like a maniac, so hard that my stomach was hurting!


Jalal al-Khoury:
Women had always been a weakness for him, much to his father’s chagrin.
Aref al-Khoury—the Shahrban of Rey—had been faithful to one woman all his life. Sought comfort in the arms of one woman, and one woman alone. Whereas his son sought comfort in the arms of many women. Women of all sorts. Short, thin, tall, plump—it mattered not to Jalal.
For Jalal al-Khoury loved women and never sought to hide the fact.
All the words in the world fall apart, insufficient, when I try to express my love for this bawdy creature! He reminds me of Jalan from Prince of Fools, if a little less self-centered and a little more family-loving and loyal?

“As you can see, I have no need to seek compliments.”
“Don’t be absurd,” Jalal replied. “All women seek compliments.”
“And all men think they know everything.”
A glorious badass who I ADORE. Complicated and three-dimensional. It was great getting her POV and I'm also not sure what she's gonna do ... That kinda worries me?

The Calipha:
“Postponed—as many things in life so often are.”
Thinking of Ava is one of the rare moments that I wanna hit Khalid, my love. She's so delicate.
I really appreciate that we got a look into how things were before, and oh man I'm BROKEN. I was left needing more :(

“The captain of the Royal Guard wants to impress a lowly handmaiden?”
“A clumsy young man wants to impress a beautiful young woman.”
I will always and forever be boarding this adorable ship. Oh my God it hurts how much I ship it!! Perfectly developed. I loved seeing how these two started after reading The Wrath & the Dawn :)


Related books:
(recommended reading order)

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1) [ MY REVIEW ]
The Moth & the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn, #0.25) [ MY REVIEW ]
The Crown & the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn, #0.5) [ MY REVIEW ]
The Mirror & the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1.5) [ MY REVIEW ]
The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn, #2) [ MY REVIEW ]

Book playlist:
(songs from author's playlist)

• “Just You & I” by dZihan & Kamien
• “The Light" by The Album Leaf [Instrumental]
• “Say (All I Need)” by OneRepublic
Profile Image for emma.
152 reviews566 followers
May 30, 2017
4.5 stars.

ok Jalal and Despina are cute AF, how does a short story manage to leave me with so many feelings???

I'm sure a lot of you saw my Flame in the Mist rant yesterday and today I was lowkey having a crisis and wondering if I imagined how good The Wrath and the Dawn series was so I came across this and decided to see what happened. Spoiler alert: I loved it. The writing was gorgeous—as is everything Renee writes—and somehow this made me love Despina even more than I already did. I genuinely love all the characters in this series with all of my heart, I might need to do a reread. :)
December 31, 2020
I was enraptured by this short story, as I've always been when it comes to everything THE WRATH AND THE DAWN-related. I bought it on Kindle for just $1.99, and fifteen minutes later I'd finished reading it. At that point I probably looked something like this:


The Moth & the Flame is a brief but no less delightful tale of Jalal, Captain of the Guard, and Despina, the Queen's handmaiden. It is set before Shahrzad became Khalid's bride, months before he was cursed, when Ava was still the Calipha of Khorasan. I enjoyed getting glimpses of Ava's character, what she was like as a person, and I had no idea that Jalal and Despina had such a long history. In the original duology, Despina intrigued me and I thought she was a very interesting study of contrasts: cunning and slippery yet bluntly honest, fierce yet soft, reticent yet vulnerable, seemingly hostile yet deeply loyal.

In this story I started to like Despina even more. I loved her wit, her sharp tongue, her calm in the face of adversity, determination, courage and most of all, strength. I loved how she could hold her own with Jalal and she never failed to put a smile on my face with her intelligent retorts. The two of them were - although incomparable to Shazi and Khalid - quite frankly, very adorable together. Their humorous banter and the undeniable chemistry between them was a captivating, inevitably passionate combination. And even afterwards, when Despina's relationship with Jalal didn't work out as she'd planned, she still gathered herself and got ready to face the world like a queen.

In an instant, she made a decision. Despina could not tell Jalal about his child. He could never know what this meant to her. He could never learn how much she loved him.

She would never give any man that kind of power over her.

No. Despina would continue working at the palace until she could hide the truth no longer.

Then she would set her world straight, once and for all. This child would not be raised to fear or hate the world around it. Be made to bow and cower to lesser men.

No. The world around this child would bow first.

Despina was one of my favorite characters in the original duology, and this novella only cemented that status.
Profile Image for TJ.
980 reviews119 followers
May 11, 2016
I know now why I waited so long to read this because...

Profile Image for Radmila.
183 reviews163 followers
March 22, 2016
4,75 STARS!!!

"You claim to know everything about women", she began. "But tell me, Captain al-Khoury, do you know my name?"

This was one short read. I loved Despina and Jalal. They made me laugh so hard.

The captain of the guard sauntered closer, a palm resting on the bejeweled hilt of his scimitar. His grin bordered on obscene. Too knowing. Too assured. Too arrogant.
"You must be hungry", Despina said.
He stopped mid-step. "Pardon?"
"You said I was the loveliest sight you'd seen all day." Despina angeled a hip forward, her most winning smile displayed to full advantage. "Therefore, you must be hungry."
"Interesting." He angeled his body in the same direction, almost on instinct. "I'll play. Why do you suppose I'm hungry?"

Profile Image for kate.
1,226 reviews948 followers
May 29, 2016
And with that, my love for Jalal and Despina has grown even stronger!

When I heard Renee Ahdieh was releasing a short story from the perspective of Despina and Jalal, I was SO excited and I'm happy to say, this did not disappoint. It was gorgeously written and gave such a lovely insight into their individual characters and how they met. It's made me even more excited/nervous to see what happens to them in The Rose and the Dagger! I have so much love for these two characters.

I need more Despina and Jalal please!!
Profile Image for P .
691 reviews327 followers
July 19, 2016
Despina's story

Cute but powerful to know this side of the girl I have had an eye for.
And about Ava, she has a good soul. I pity her so much.

Profile Image for Chesca (thecrownedpages).
309 reviews161 followers
November 14, 2016

The Moth & the Flame tells the story of how Despina first met Jalal when she was given the honorable task of becoming the calipha’s handmaiden. The short tale started at the time of Khalid’s first marriage, with Ava, and ended when Shahrzad arrived at the palace.

I finished this novella with a terrible and excruciating feeling. It is not enough for me like most novellas out there. I want more of Jalal and Despina. I think this was just a little chunk of their story and that there is still a greater picture that’s yet to be told about them.

How could one be satisfied with this? Some of the chapters occurred weeks or months apart from each other. What happened between those? Did they meet? What were they doing during those times they met? Where did they meet? Reading this was like looking through a window with one of the curtains drawn closed, concealing half of your view of the outside.

In this story I only got to know Despina better and not Jalal. All the things mentioned about him were already shown in the main books. I’ve already seen this side of him, which is good, I guess, because it meant that he’s the kind of character that didn’t have to be revealed like a mystery everyone had the need to unearth. So, I could say that of all the characters in this series, Jalal is the truest one. Meanwhile, I got to know Despina’s weaker and softer side. This is the part of her that we didn’t see in the other installments before. She was reluctant and careful towards Jalal, showing him a haughty front whenever he’s trying to pursue her. She was trying so hard not to be like all the other women out there who fell for men like him.

If you’ve read The Wrath & the Dawn, you would know that . I’m not saying that things should have been explicit in the way they were told, but if you would compare this to the heat, passion, and relationship development of Shazi and Khalid that we saw, this is nothing. It’s so frustrating! I think Jalal and Despina deserve so much more than this short novella.

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy this. I just want more of it. Can I have at least a hundred more pages of this couple? If you loved this OTP as much as I did, you better read this. I highly recommend this to fans of Renee Ahdieh’s debut series. You surely would not want to miss this.
Profile Image for Jillian .
441 reviews1,814 followers
March 25, 2016
Omg this was great! I love despina and jalal so so much they neeeeeeed their own book. I could read about them for 300+ pages!!
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
513 reviews306 followers
March 27, 2016
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner !

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I had heard about this short story I was excited. I liked Despina and Jalah when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. I wanted to know when they first started interacting with each other. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this story!

The book begins in Despina's point of view. She was just been promoted to Handmaiden. She's to be Ava's handmaiden. Despina has noticed that Ava doesn't speak a lot. More often than not she's day dreaming. She hasn't interacted with Despina. Ava has her own set of servants and she keeps close to them.

Despina is arranging some of Ava's clothes with the help of another maid. The two talk while they sort the clothes. When Despina picks up a handful of clothes, she hears a tear. She sets the clothes down and begins to inspect the skirt. Needing more light she takes the skirt outside to inspect it.

While looking at the tear she hears someone approaching. It turns out to be Jalah. This is Despina's first time talking with the Captain of the Royal Guard. But despite this she knows of his reputation. Jalah is known for flirting with tons of girls. His reputation makes Despina uncomfortable and she tries to ignore. They have an awkward conversation. Jalah tries to hard to attempt to flirt with Despina. And Despina brushes him off.

I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this! I got some laughs while reading Despina and Jalah's interactions. It was nice to find out a little more about Ava. And man did I really feel for Ava. I'm starting to wonder whether Ava actually had depression. I liked reading about the interaction that Despina and Ava had!

Much to my surprise the writing style felt too wordy. There were a bunch of needless descriptions. I found this surprising considering that I never felt this way when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. It was almost as if the author did it to add more words.

While the interaction between Jalah and Despina was funny, I never really felt the tension. Pretty early on in the short story they started having a secret relationship. This might be because it was so short. This book also shows you more ways on how stupid Khalid was when he was married to Ava. I'm surprised that he never really interacted with her and it was so obvious that she was hurting. This isn't a flaw I'm just pointing it out. Nonetheless this was still fun to read!

Overall this was a good book. I recommend it to fans of the series.
Profile Image for Anniebananie.
552 reviews399 followers
April 14, 2017
Leider ein sehr kurzes Lesevergnügen, hätte mir für das Geld noch ein paar mehr Seiten gewünscht irgendwie 😐 den Blickwinkel und den Zeitpunkt der Geschichte fand ich nämlich wirklich gut!
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
432 reviews1,793 followers
February 3, 2020
I really loved this short story because it focused on two of my favourite characters, Jalal and Despina, and how the two of them met. Both of them are quick with words and smart and their interactions gave me such joy.

What this story also revealed was the setting of the palace at the time of Khalid's first wife, Ava, and the mystery of her death. I say mystery because this story is in Despina's POV and she doesn't know exactly what happened.

I'm still unsure of Jalal's feelings for Despina but it's clear from this story that she loves him.

My reviews for:
0.5. The Crown and the Arrow
1. The Wrath and the Dawn
1.5 The Mirror and the Maze
2. The Rose and the Dagger
Profile Image for prag ♻.
594 reviews593 followers
December 27, 2016
Have I ever mentioned before I'm a sucker for love-hate love stories and emotional nights? Have I ever mentioned before I am utterly in love with Despina?

I don't know what to do with myself anymore. I need more. I need to read TRaTD again. I need Jalal. I need Despina. I need more.
Profile Image for Imogene Dacanay.
139 reviews64 followers
June 14, 2016
Despina is a beautiful and charming guardian of the garments. One who's full of pride, gives herself importance, one who's intelligent. Then there's Jalal , the son of General Aref al-Khoury, the Shahrban of Rey. Jalal found his match. I love how witty and humorous they are. It's just that I failed to see how Despina fell for Jalal. It was said that she isn't like most girls but what happened? The notorious rake's now a father to her unborn child.

This book is a quick-read. Since this is a short story, I assumed reader will be given an additional knowledge about Des and Jalal. All we got was insta-kiss. Still, I find them amusing! I loved them, it's just that I needed more.

Also, the book gave us brief knowledge, some information regarding Ava. And that Despina's keeping secrets, she has unraveled past. Another mystery!

Renee Ahdieh, your writing style never fails to capture me. exquisite as always!
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
August 27, 2016

This short story gives a little history of how Despina and Jalal met and fell in love, before we got to know them on The Wrath & the Dawn.We also got a little bit of Ava's story,the cousin and bestfriend of Shazi,(as far as I can remember)and the last Calipha of Khalid before Shazi volunteered to be the new Calipha of Khorasan.

I enjoyed reading this,'cause it's so sweet and it focused on Despina,and on how kindhearted she is as a queen's handmaiden,and on how amazing she is as a woman.Reading this,just made me love Despina and Jalal even more!

Thanks a lot to my lovely friend,Alafiya who influenced me on reading this awesome short story,and thanks to my dear little sis AJ the Ravenous Reader for introducing this series to me.^^
Profile Image for Nina.
306 reviews409 followers
June 25, 2016
"You claim to know everything about women," she began. "But tell me, Captain al-Khoury, do you know my name?"
Jalal was at a loss. Her perfume had cloaked his senses. Clouded his judgment.
He hadn't been expecting such a question.
An easy one. A silly one.
One Jalal could not romance his way through.

This novella was incredibly cute. I love this otp and their sweet banter. Despina is a handmaiden but she speaks to the captain of the guard like she's his equal, and on the level of souls, they are. The jessamine scene was my favourite. Prepare for the swoons.

"If it's too early for wine, then it's too early for reflection."
Despina is my spirit animal.
Profile Image for Alafiya.
53 reviews272 followers
April 29, 2016


Even his name is beautiful.

Wow, this was oiwahuahfeuefgougf so beautiful!! But too short. Renee's writing is flawless. The characters, the everything about this series, FLAW-FREAKIN'-LESS!
Profile Image for Fatima  Havilliard.
109 reviews34 followers
May 22, 2016
"The flash of light draw him towards her, like a moth to a flame."

Final Rating: 5 colorful stars.

The Moth & the Flame is one of the three short stories who complement the duology of The Wrath and The Dawn, a retelling of The Arabian Nights. This one, in specific, tells us the love story of Jalal and Despina, who I must admit, are my second and third favorite characters of this duology. So you probably already guessed that this is my favorite story of all the three.

But tbh this wasn't enough. I need a whole book about them to be satisfied.


One of the things I really like is that Renee Ahdieh put Ava in this story so we can know more things about Khalid's first wife. And more because if it wasn't for she, Khalid would never had a curse so he will not kill womans, and he will not met Shahrzad. :o

Profile Image for Μaria Vrisanaki .
189 reviews134 followers
February 24, 2020

Αααχ! Λατρεύω τον Jalal και τη Δέσποινα, τόσο ξεχωριστά όσο και μαζί, γι'αυτό ενθουσιάστηκα όταν κατάλαβα πως υπάρχει ιστορία αφιερωμενη σε αυτούς και ήθελα σαν τρελή να δω πώς δημιουργήθηκε η σχέση τους. Αλλά το 'βιβλιο' αυτό ήταν τοοοοσο μικρό. Όλα έγιναν πολύ γρήγορα και βιαστικά. Ίσα που είδα δύο πράγματα και δύο τρεις σκηνές με τους δυο τους. Δεν είναι αρκετά. Σίγουρα θα ήθελα πολλες περισσότερες σκηνές, τόσο με το πλησίασμα , οσο και μετά .
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