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
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.
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.