As I said in a discussion post the other day, I seem to be getting really behind on my reviews, so its actually been a while since I read The Wrath and the Dawn and Three Dark Crowns. However, I enjoyed them so much though that I didn’t want to not review them, so I thought I’d do some quick, mini reviews as a lot of commenters suggested:
‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ by Renee Ahdieh
“It’s a fitting punishment for a monster. to want something so much—to hold it in your
arms — and know beyond a doubt you will never deserve it.”
Every day Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan takes a new bride, only to have her executed the following sunrise. His subjects live in terror of their monstrous boy king, each family fearing that their own daughter will be the next ill-fated Calipha. So it’s a shocking surprise when sixteen-year old Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride, but little does anyone know that she has a cunning plan to stay alive, and to exact revenge for the death of her best friend and so many other girls. The only problem is when she discovers that the evil King isn’t quite what she thought…
This book has been on my TBR list for so long, and I’d heard some really great things about it, so I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint! The main thing I loved about it was its uniqueness: as much as I love retellings, some of the more popular stories (Cinderella, etc.) are a little overdone, so I loved the choice of a classic Middle Eastern tale in The Wrath and the Dawn.
I also loved the way in which Renee Ahdieh paints the setting. Her writing is truly beautiful and appeals to all of the senses, allowing you to become truly lost in the world of the story. Occasionally I thought it was maybe a little overwritten (I distinctly remember one huge paragraph that just described a meal they were going to eat, that felt a little over the top – it looks good, I get it!), but for the most part this book gave me some serious writer envy!
And then of course there’s the wonderfully complex characters! Whilst in many ways Shazi is one of those typical ‘strong female characters‘ she’s complex enough that I found myself really liking her as a character, and felt her conflict over Khalid right along with her.
When I started reading the book I was definitely prepared to resist the book’s attempts to make me like the seemingly murderous Khalid, whatever his excuse was. However, it’s testement to Renee Ahdieh’s great writing and character building that I did really feel for him in the end, and I came to truly like him as a character. The build-up to the reveal of why he was having his brides killed also kept up a constant level of tension in the book, and I found myself absolutely desperate to discover what was going on.
In fact, I found myself zipping through this book in a matter of days! I really enjoyed it, and can definitely now see what all the hype is about. It felt really different from a lot of other YA fantasy books I’ve read, and was definitely a unique retelling. I can’t wait to read The Rose and the Dagger next!
‘Three Dark Crowns’ by Kendare Blake
“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends
Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”
Every generation, a set of triplets is born on the island of Fennbirn, and each one of them is a queen, gifted with a different power. But these sisters can never be friends: only one of them can rule, and the others must die at their sister’s hands. But who will rule next: the talented elemental Mirabella, the cunning poisoner Katharine or the naturalist Arsinoe?
The whole ‘young people fighting to the death’ thing isn’t exactly original – The Hunger Games of course springs to mind – but I liked the way Kendare Blake supplanted this typical sci-fi storyline into a fantasy world complete with interesting magical powers and gifts. The powers were for the most part subtle (aside from Mirabella’s elemental powers!), and I liked the way people with the different gifts live in different communities that reflect the nature of their powers.
I may not have liked all of the main characters – Katharine for example, I found myself having little interest in – but thankfully it didn’t seem to effect my enjoyment of the book. If anything, it helped me get into the spirit of the book, with me taking a side, although I was rooting for Mirabella’s attempts at peace to work out more than anything.
Arsinoe was definitely my favourite sister though, and I liked the supporting network of characters around her the best too. Jules, for example, was a great character, although at times it did kind of seem like she eclipsed Arsinoe herself as the central character of that arc: she has the big love story and a greater amount of power.
I would have maybe liked a little more in-depth world-building, and a faster pace at the start of this book, but overall I really enjoyed it! It took an interesting premise and combined it with great execution, even if not all of the characters were super likeable. I think that may actually be one of the great things about the book though – different readers will like different queens – from a glance at Goodreads it seems like there are a lot of Katharine fans or there, whilst she was my least favourite!
I’m definitely looking forward to the release of One Dark Throne so I can find out what happens now the race for the Throne has begun!