cover image The Wrath and the Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn

Renée Ahdieh. Putnam, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-399-17161-1

What does one make of a man forced to murder dozens of women in order to save a city from a curse—who then stops killing, dooming the city anyway, because he’s fallen in love? It’s a tricky ethical conundrum to build a love story on, and Ahdieh’s debut, a reimagining of the tale of Scheherazade, dances around it. Shahrzad, 16, decides that she is the one who will stop the murderous caliph, Khalid, by destroying him to avenge the death of her best friend. Shazi marries Khalid and entices him with a cliffhanger story, persuading him to allow her to live one more day to finish the tale as she races to devise his assassination. Day after day together adds nuance their relationship beyond what either could have imagined; as they hesitate in their separate resolves, other plots are set in motion. Lushly imagined and powerfully characterized, it’s a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance. With a premise this loaded, though, Ahdieh sets herself a big challenge in the second, concluding volume. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary Agency. (May)