My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Purchase: Book Depository
This review contains spoilers but they are marked.
I feel the need to start this review by saying, I know nothing about Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, so this won’t be a review about how this is or isn’t like the original tale.
I feel the need to start this review by saying, I know nothing about Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, so this won’t be a review about how this is or isn’t like the original tale, because people are arguing about that a lot over on Goodreads. In my mind its a good book regardless of how it stands in comparison to the other retellings. Its a love story with enough history and danger thrown in to make it interesting to me.
The Wrath and the Dawn was really good. The thing I wished I had known going in was that there is an index in the back and it’s really helpful to understanding what Shazi (the main character) was talking about. The clothes are so richly described, but I didn’t have access to the index, so I found myself weeping over the sheer frustration of trying to figure out what was going on.
I’ll start by getting my complaints out of the way: I felt like there should have been more story telling. Honestly she only tells stories for the first… night or so? Then they immediately move to past the story telling to the ‘I love you stage’ and the book gets a little sappy. I really wanted more story telling because Shazi seemed to be good at it! I was not a fan of her friend Tariq (I had to get my book out to remember his name, that’s how dull he was). He didn’t seem to do much, and everything he did was to control Shazi. He didn’t like what she did or believe in her bravery, so he decided to start a war and risk killing hundreds of innocents. And I hate love triangles, but they’re everywhere so I won’t deduct anything for that. No I’ll just say that it could managed without it and move on. I also thought that Yasmine could have been handled better. She seemed like a great character and I liked what we saw of her. It’s always nice to have a woman say that she wants whats best for her friend, rather than insisting that he has to be with her. But the author seemed to treat her as a bit of a throwaway character, who was just there for shock value.
Overall I really loved the book and can’t wait for the sequel, even though I did lower the rating while I was writing the review. Once I was sitting at my computer and really thinking about what I wanted to say (and not initially shelving the book after finishing) I realized that it wasn’t quite a five star book, I had too many bones to pick. What it is is a great story that I will read again and I am waiting for baited breath for the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger.
- If you put an index in the back of the book, TELL US IN THE FRONT otherwise it is a waste of pages.
- Why are some of the Indian words in italic and some are not? I’m certain there’s a reason for this, but I still don’t understand it and found it kind of distracting to stop every few pages and wonder, “Why is it like this?”
- Foreign countries are hard to read about, no matter how educated you are. Either make the decision to explain every little thing or explain nothing and include an index. Don’t try to do both.
- Someone should write a book called ‘One Thousand and One Knights’
- I don’t know what it would be about, but that title is the best pun I’ve come up with all day.
- Love triangles are not necessary.
- You can’t have a character (Yasmine in this case) and set her up to care about the guy and want him to be happy even if he’s not with her and still try and force a love triangle. It detracts from the girls in the triangle and it makes you seem foolish.
- If you’re going to have two POVs (Tariq and Shazi) make them both interesting and coherent. The POVs need to mesh and tell the story together.
Kahlid was so well done, I felt. I enjoyed his reactions and the unsent letters were such a nice touch and incredibly heart breaking. Shazi’s reaction to them was also well done, snapping her out of the bliss that she had fallen into and reminding her of why she was there, (and promptly she’s in love again after another little thing). His backstory was tragic of course, and I love that kind of backstory that leaves you wanting an entire book about it. One thing I didn’t fully understand was, did his first wife kill herself? Or did someone sneak in and randomly murder her? I could see his uncle doing it, to be honest.
I could talk all day about Shazi. When I first picked up this book I thought it was going to be sappy, but it wasn’t too terribly and I’m extremely happy about that. She’s a well developed character, with a clear motivation, something a lot of main characters lack. But she is also incredibly smart and observant, seeing very quickly that there is more going on than meets the eye and waiting around to find out what. The few stories she did tell were captivating, she’s clearly a great story-teller, and I loved how she referenced them throughout the book, turning them into lessons (a common theme in mythology and folklore).
Desmina and Jalal was another great pain/storyline. It was, if nothing else, frankly realistic, although I will be interested to see where it goes in the next book. Traditionally I doubt they could get married and live happily ever after, but this is fiction, so who knows where the author will take it. I’m kind of hoping for stark realism.