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Book review: Mystery and romance highlight Scheherazade retelling in 'The Wrath and the Dawn'

Posted March 15

"THE WRATH & THE DAWN," by Renee Ahdieh, Penguin, $10.99, 388 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)

The familiar story of Scheherazade and her thousand tales is brought to life with a new twist in "The Wrath and the Dawn" by Renee Ahdieh.

Shahrzad has volunteered to be wed to Khalid, the caliph or king of Khorasan, who has killed dozens of wives at dawn the day after their wedding. The last wife was Shahrzad's best friend, and now she's married the king so she can discover his weakness and avenge her friend's death.

She weaves the king a tale that night, cutting it off just before the end at dawn and Khalid is so enthralled — perhaps more by her than her story — that he keeps her alive for one more day ... and then the next, and then the next.

Before long, Shahrzad finds to her dismay that she is falling for the quiet, thoughtful Khalid, and she hates herself for her attraction to a murderer. But she begins to believe there is more to Khalid than he has led people to believe. If only he would answer her questions: Why did he kill all those women, just a day into their marriage? And why is he keeping Shahrzad alive?

Meanwhile, Shahrzad's childhood love, Tariq, will stop at nothing to rescue her, including gathering an army against the king. And Shahrzad's scholar of a father is immersing himself in ancient and dangerous magical traditions to gain the power to get her back.

While much of the prose is effusive and skippable, the mystery and romance of the plot drive the book forward at a fast pace. The story of Shahrzad and Khalid in particular is the highlight of the novel, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager to know what happens next for this pair.

This young adult fantasy novel contains scattered profanities, implied sex between a married couple and several instances of violence, including descriptions of blood and wounds.

Email: mbulsiewicz@deseretnews.com

Twitter: mgarrett589

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