The Wrath and the Dawn and its sequel The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh were two very popular, and very entertaining fantasy novels that I recently read and will review. However, I must take issue with a major part in the book which I will do at the end:
The series begins in a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
This book has romance and adventure and lots of beautiful scenery but here is what the book also has, but refuses to mention: rape. Shahrzad, at the beginning of her deception to the King, still follows through with her “wifely duties” and consummates the marriage. She does not want to do it. This is never mentioned again. I take issue with books, especially Young Adult books, which portray sexual relationships in this way and portray a skewed view of consent, love, and sex. So beware: although this book is filled with fantasy and delight, more seasoned readers may be disturbed.