2015 brought with it two young adult interpretations of Scheherazade’s story from A Thousand and One Nights. I had previously read E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights and I think my reading of The Wrath and the Dawn suffered from a bit from over-familiarity.
After all, every story has a story.
In this version, Shahrzad volunteers herself as a bride, shocking her family. Her best friend died at the hands of the king and she knows the only way to avenge her death is to get close to him. To put off her death she tells him a story, a story that can’t be told in one night.
In the original stories, the king starts murdering his brides after his first wife is unfaithful, here it’s Khalid’s father who had an unfaithful wife. For most the book, the reason for the deaths is kept secret, with Shahrzad growing less and less dedicated to her revenge because she starts to quite like him.
The fantasy elements don’t really emerge until quite near the end. It seemed obvious from quite early on that there would be a reason for Khalid’s murderous ways. I wanted the reveal over and done with earlier because otherwise it’s just a bit odd that she forgets her purpose and hatred so quickly. He stays distanced from his brides, which makes sense, but her behaviour doesn’t.
“And there’s nothing you can do about the past.”
“You’re wrong. I can learn from it.”
Tariq, the childhood love interest, is the possessive kind and it came across as if he felt she belonged to him. At no point did I really want her to go back to him.
Whilst there were sumptuous descriptions of food, it was lacking the magical world-building to support the core aspects that the tale revolves around. What was going on with Shahrzad’s father all this time? It pootles along like a historical romance and then wham, there’s magic all of a sudden.
Only one of Shahrzad’s stories is told fully, although it is inferred that she tells a lot more. The problem with the inclusion of one, it didn’t come across as told captivatingly enough to persuade a bloodthirsty king not to kill her.
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