Title: The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publication Date: April 26th, 2016
Category/Genre: Young Adult Retellings
G.P. Putnam’s Son Books for Young Readers
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.
- Befriend: Shahrzad
- Take to prom & kiss: Khalid
- Take to a desert island and leave behind: Jahandar
- Change into a vampire so we can be young together & forever: Khalid (sorry, Tariq)
4.5 “Beautiful writing, complex characters and epic love story” STARS
Yep, from that line above you already know how I feel about this book, huh? And if you read my review of The Wrath & The Dawn then you know how I feel about the series and its author.
The Wrath & The Dawn was one of my favorite reads of 2015. It easily made my top 5 list. And its sequel will certainly be featured on my favorite’s list this year too.
Though not as sexy and angsty as the first, The Rose & The Dagger is just as good as I expected it to be. What I didn’t see coming was the heartbreak and how it’d make me cry. Yep. I cried, people. That doesn’t happen often, but can you really doubt Renee’s superb writing can evoke all kinds of emotion?
If it’s been a while since you read the first book (which was my case – why did I have to wait so long? How did I wait so long?), then let me refresh your memory. Last year, Renee Ahdie brought us the love story between Khalid, the monster boy-king who took a new wife every day just to kill her the next dawn, and Shahrzad, the girl who offered herself as his new wife with a plan to get revenge for her best friend’s death at his hand.
I know… I know…
We soon learned Khalid wasn’t the monster his people believed him to be. In fact, he was just a boy trying to protect his people from a curse, and because of that curse he had to let go of the one he loved the most.
This is where The Rose & The Dagger starts. Khalid and Shahrzad are apart, missing it each other painfully, and making me feel so much only a few pages in:
“A trickle of blood slid down his arm.
He felt nothing. He only saw it.
Because nothing hurt like missing her.
He suspected nothing ever would.”
Rip my heart out, why won’t you?
But the story doesn’t dwell on those feelings for long (fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t tell), because Khalid and Shahrzad have a lot to worry about. Breaking a curse, finding a way to be together again, stopping a war, discovering and exploring hidden abilities and learning who to trust are all things on the agenda. Since this was a duology (shock!!! How come you not giving me a third book, Renee? So mean), the author had all of that to cover and a satisfying ending to deliver. Needless to say, things had to move fast, and they did.
Again, no matter how fast things moved, the characters stole the show. Even the minor characters like Shahrzad’s sister, Irsa and Tariq’s best friend, Rahim. Honestly, it took me a while to get behind Irsa’s POV chapter. I often felt like it needed to be narrated/focus on other characters – mainly the one where Tariq was acting stupid with a bow and arrow, but when I finally understood the importance of her chapters and Irsa as a character it was too late… Too late to not feel. Too late to not be devastated for her. Not be devastated by that damn chapter. (I am not crying again. Nope). So thank you, Irsa, for making me feel.
Someone who also made me feel a whole lot was Irsa and Shahrzad’s dad. What an obnoxious man! I wanted to kill him many times, even though deep down I understood where his hunger for power came from. It doesn’t mean I forgive him for everything he did and all the pain he caused, but yeah… write complex characters, why don’t you, Renée?
Talking about complex, Shahrzad embodied that word in this book. She was a great character in book 1, but her flaws and qualities were even more pronounced here. Shahrzad was selfish and incredibly stubborn at times. Rude in so many occasions. But she was also brave and bold and fearless. She was sexy and powerful. And then she was weak. I wanted to learn more about her power and thought she could’ve done much more with it. That’s pretty much one of the only negative things I have to say about the way the author handled the story.
Mostly, I loved how Shahrzad made me want to punch her, just to want to hug her a few moments later. By the end, I was exhausted and happy to have known her.
“Put them away at once, you miserable louts!” Shahrzad insisted. “This is why the world would be a far better place in the hands of women.”
What to say about the boys? I continue to love Khalid fiercely. I mean, how can you not? He was the one who changed the least from the end of the last book to the end of this one, which can be a good and a bad thing. I see it as a great thing, actually, because I loved him just as much. Tariq, on the other hand, irritated me way less here. He grew on me, I guess. He showed me his pain and I couldn’t help but feel it and feel for him. A love that big had to hurt when not returned, especially since it had once been. Tough we got less chapters from his POV (or maybe because of it?), I had the sense I knew Tariq a lot better now and understood and liked him a lot more.
I also liked the surprises involving characters that played big roles in the first book, but practically disappeared in this one just to show up at the right time. Right before Despina (Shahrzad’s handmaiden and friend) showed up for the second time with her “SURPRISE” moment, I was just wondering what had happened to her and what had been the point of showing her earlier if she’d only disappear for the rest of the story. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of writing. Renee masters it — we all know that by now – and she showed it again by bringing Despina back right when she was needed. *claps*
Oh, let me just add something about another minor character – Yasmine. I won’t get into details because of spoilers, but if the idea in the end was truly Yasmine’s, she’s the smartest person in this story. She found a way to keep the legacy her father was about to throw out the window because he was stupid and still look good while doing it. I admire her. And I ship her with “you’ll know who when you read it”. I knew it was going to happen and I approve.
I also approve of the ending. A lot. A whole damn lot. The almost heart attack was unnecessary, but the pages after that were just perfection. So much love for those characters and their future.
So, in case you didn’t notice, I loved The Rose & The Dagger and, most importantly, I loved that group of characters. I also loved Renee’s beautiful prose. Now go get your copy and read it so we can spread the love.
Guest review contributed by U.S. – Brazil Book Review. As a book review diplomat of sorts, this blogger reviews books in English and Portuguese. If there’s romance in the book, she’s probably loving it.