Book Review: The Rose and The Dagger – Renee Ahdieh

The-Rose-and-the-Dagger-Renee-Ahdieh-Book-Review

Title: The Rose and the Dagger (2016)
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn – Book 2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 416 pages
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Review

So… I have been excited about The Rose and the Dagger ever since I finished The Wrath and the Dawn last year. I loved that book so much I pretty much included it in 90% of my tags and Top Ten Tuesday lists, as well as mention it whenever is appropriate — which goes to say that my expectations for TRATD are so high, they’re probably impossible to meet realistically. Thankfully, this book delivered. This review will contain spoilers for TWATD. 🙂

TRATD picks up almost right at the end of TWATD. Shahrzad, henceforth Shazi, has been taken away by the people she love into what they think would be a better life — her father, her childhood lover, her sister. In this book, old characters turn tables and new characters make appearances. My favourite of these is Irsa, Shazi’s sister, her best friend and also her supporter.

Introduced to us in the first book, Irsa didn’t play a huge part then but held a bit more of the key now. She serves as a contrast to Shazi — shyer, more vulnerable, somewhat overshadowed by her sister but not to the extent of resentment. A sizeable chunk of TRATD is devoted to their relationship, particularly the rebuilding of trust that has to happen because neither of them really knew what the other was capable of anymore.

There is definitely less romance in this book than the previous, but that’s not a bad thing. TRATD is focused more on Shazi discovering herself: her powers, her capabilities, her feelings, her responsibilities, what she wants for her future. This time she’s more sure of herself, more determined to do what’s right.

Destiny was for fools. Sharzad would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.

Now, I am a big supporter of Shazi and Khalid and have been since the previous book, but I completely, completely understand whenever a character calls Shazi out on it and questions her decision. What’s great is seeing Shazi stand up for herself and for the man that she loves — that’s never easy to do, and believe me, this particular pairing has a lot of haters. If ever you were looking for the elements of a classic forbidden romance, this book has them all. 😛

In saying that, Shazi and Khalid are still best when they’re together. Given the way they got together and their whole history, it might be hard to see how they can have anything resembling a healthy relationship, but they’re a good team. They communicate, they protect each other, and they’re not afraid to poke fun at one another — which, by the way, is just super fun to read about. They also complement each other quite nicely.

“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.”

His expression turned quizzical.

“You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.”

“Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.

Khalid didn’t have as much screen time in this book, but any time he did it was more than worthwhile. This man is extremely romantic, which I tend to dismiss as cheesy and corny, but in the setting that this book has, it just somehow works. It’s not just that, however — here we also saw him change into a better person: not quite trusting, not quite healed, not quite friendly… but absolutely willing to try, at least for Shazi.

Ahdieh’s writing was as beautiful as always: descriptive without being overly long-winded, elegant without being stuffy, subtle without being confusing, and overall just very lyrical. I love the way she describes pretty much everything from the little things to the grand emotions, and it just suits the atmosphere of this book perfectly.

As always. As ever. As a rose to the sun.

Unfortunately, unlike with the previous book, there were some parts at the beginning that I felt were a bit boring. We got a lot of alternate perspectives that I didn’t feel were completely necessary, as it dragged the story on and brought it to places that weren’t entirely relevant to the main plot. I cared about Shazi and really wanted her to be alright, but the action took a while while to unfold, and I just didn’t find that reading momentum until about one-third of the story is over.

Overall, however, TRATD was a much-needed sequel to the series, with its utterly gorgeous writing, unpredictable twists and turns, and characters you want to root for. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s read and loved the previous book. 🙂

REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.

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15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Rose and The Dagger – Renee Ahdieh

  1. I finished reading this book yesterday and I LOVED it, like you it was one of my most anticipated releases after I finished TWATD.
    I do agree with you about all the perspectives too. I liked that we saw more from the other characters, their thoughts and everything, but yeah at times some of the chapters felt a little unnecessary, and like they took away from the action a little at times.
    I loved Shazi’s relationship with her sister in this book, and every scene between her and Khalid as well! Their relationship is definitely one of my favourites that I’ve read in YA books! Great review 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Beth! To be honest for me this one didn’t rank as highly as TWATD – I just wasn’t engaged right off the bat and the plot was a bit slower. I do think overall that it was a good book, but at the same time I’m glad that this one is a duology, haha. Some stories are better told in a novel or two than three or a full series, I feel. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right 😀 I think if this series had been stretched into three books it would have been way too much, two was kind of a nice length though I could potentially see a spin-off or companion novel being released one day, maybe 🙂
        I think at the beginning we had to be introduced to a new setting, new characters and a new situation for Shazi which is probably what, in my mind, slowed the plot down a little. I still enjoyed it about the same as TWATD though, and the ending was nice too! 🙂

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        • I completely agree! I honestly would be more surprised if there’s no companion novel rather than if there is… seems like that’s kind of the trend with YA novels nowadays. Just the series isn’t enough, there has got to be companion novellas/novels too!

          The ending was nice, absolutely. After everything they’ve been through, it’s good to see where they end up. 😛

          Liked by 1 person

          • Exactly, but even though it’s a trend I feel this series could actually write one and make it work rather than just writing one for the sake of continuing the story. I would love to read more about Irsa or Artan, hell I’d even read a story about Tariq and Jasmine! 🙂
            I’d hoped it would be a happy ending for them both but yeah the ending exceeded my expectations a little! 🙂

            Like

            • I would actually LOVE a Tariq/Jasmine quick romance novella, haha. I’m a sucker for side characters and I actually really like Jasmine – I can see this pairing working out because they’re both so stubborn in their own ways. 😛

              Liked by 1 person

              • Same here, I mean, the author already wrote some short novellas between TWATD and TRATD so there’s nothing to say we won’t get some from after TRATD p, fingers crossed anyways 😀
                I liked Jasmine a lot more in the second book than the first, I felt she grew more as her own character rather than just a background one in the first book, and I’d like to see a happy ending for her and Tariq too!

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                • Definitely! I wonder though if sometimes authors feel like it’s too neat when they’re pairing off the remaining, single characters together. That kind of thing I imagine don’t happen all that often irl when there is literally the world to find a partner from… :p

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I sometimes think that, I mean in real life it’s kind of unlikely that everyone would end up with someone (of me and my group of five friends only two people are in relationships!) but I guess authors want to give everyone a happy ending, even if it is just the hint of a romantic relationship 🙂

                    Like

                    • You said it! Out of my group of friends probably only about 3-4 of us are in relationships too, and the others feel like they’ve been single forever, not even dating, haha. It does feel a bit ~too neat~ when authors pair off everybody but like you said, it’s understandable if they just want all their characters to be happy.

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought the beginning dragged on as well and I thought maybe it was just me because I was horrified with myself for being bored right away. I was glad that the action did pick up because not loving this book would have been so disappointing!
    Awesome review! 😉

    Like

    • I’m glad you agreed! Like you I was in denial for a bit as well, like “omg no please I HAVE to be entertained, am I not entertained?” but the truth is that it just didn’t measure up to the greatness that was TWATD, in my opinion. Thankfully it’s still quite a solid sequel. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG. Great review! I absolutely loved TWATD. I immediately grabbed TRATD when it became available and started reading. I got about 30% and fell into a book slump because the beginning lagged. I’m definitely going to go back to the book, but I just got lost for a while. Your review makes me want to dive back in. It seems like the coming scenes are worth the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Happy reading!

    Jessica @ Pore Over the Pages

    Like

    • Thank you! I absolutely loved TWATD too and must agree – the sequel is just quite a big slower and takes its sweet, sweet time getting to the point. I hope it’s more gripping if/when you give it another chance. 🙂

      Like

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