Title: The Rose & The Dagger
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & The Dawn #2
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: eBook, 420 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars
The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”
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.
In The Wrath and The Dawn, Shahrzad wed the monster that killed her best friend, determined to end him. But with each passing day, she learnt that not everything within the palace walls is as it seems. Her own heart betrayed her, falling in love with the very man she set out to destroy. In The Rose and The Dagger, Shahrzad goes to great lengths in order to save the very same man. Determined to find a way to break Khalid’s curse, she ventures into the world of flying carpets and magic, and discovers where her own powers lie, with the help of a skilled magician. However, war is brewing, and with it comes treachery and deceit, and Shahrzad is willing to do whatever she can to stop the onslaught and save the ones she loves.
Last year, I fell in love with Renée Ahdieh’s writing. The Wrath and The Dawn, with its intricate designs and lyrical prose, quickly became one of my favourite books. I remember trying to savour it, but still devouring the book like a crazed, famished madman. I really tried to take my time because I was sure the year-long wait would crush me. Then the ending came and I knew for certain. The Rose and The Dagger had the tough job to meet all my raised expectations, and I’m so happy that it did! Renée Ahdieh delivers the perfect conclusion to a perfect duology, and she could not have done it any better.
The writing continues to be as melodic as in the first book, with all the words fitting together perfectly in a string of shiny-beaded sentences. I love the way Renée describes everything, the details just as glorious as the bigger picture. With the way she writes, the reader is truly transported to distant desert lands, full of curses and flying carpets and captivating tales. And I’d like to pay a special shout-out to the food descriptions, because those are what truly did me over. I kept licking my lips and I’m pretty sure my stomach gurgled on an occasion or two.
Shahrzad continues to slay with her fierce weapon skills and even fiercer tongue. And now, fierce magic abilities are added to the list. I love her determination, and how it never once wavered, despite being place in an environment where she understandably might begin to have doubts. But Shazi is as loyal as ever, and she stops at nothing to protect those she loves. Khalid is equally as strong of a lead, though he’s more of a looming presence. It is said numerous times that he’s a man of a few words, and I feel like that describes the Caliph perfectly. Still, he’s as fierce as Shazi, despite keeping everything under a stony mask. I love how he is with Shazi, and with those that she loves.
You never once doubt either Shahrzad’s or Khalid’s devotion. Their love is so deep and pure, but at the same time they’re not afraid to speak their mind and tell the truth, even when it’s hard to hear. I am so grateful that there wasn’t any recklessness done behind the other’s back, and instead there is actual communication between the two leads. There were scenes that absolutely shattered me, and others that elevated me on a spiritual level, and I loved each and every one of them.
Aside from my worshipping of Shazi and Khalid, I grew attached to the supporting characters as well. I love how the women in this series are not in any way undermined, and instead have all their strengths enhanced and their weaknesses shown without making them appear less human, or less than a man. I hold an even fiercer adoration for Despina after reading this book, and I’m so glad to say that Yasmine wedged herself in my heart. Even Shazi’s sister, whom I could not bring myself to really care for, stayed with me after that final page. I will kiss the ground on which Renée walks upon for having written such beautiful female characters, and doing them all justice.
The ending had me screaming and reeling and yelling. I was already so afraid and Renée played with that fear like it was doll. But I cannot help but praise her for it. She had me, and I should have known better, but I still played into her trap. All the slow clapping for you, Renée! I loved how everything came a full circle at the very end, and how big of a role story-telling has had to play.
The only somewhat less positive thing I have to say about this book is that I felt some of the POV chapters unnecessary. They were not bad by any means, I just would have preferred if some were not given that much narrative and we’d stuck more to the main characters.
In conclusion, The Rose and The Dagger is a worthy sequel and a perfect conclusion to this duology. Everything from the writing to the characters to the conclusion is beyond a doubt remarkable and will stay with me for a long, long time.