Title: The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: YA, Re-telling, Romance
Synopsis: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.
While I definitely came late to this party, I have since become absolutely obsessed with this series. I have recommended it to everyone, including the guy at my local bookstore. Generally, I’m split on sequels and find them polarizing. Either they are fantastic or they feel irrelevant. Because this is a duology, this book was completely relevant. Because Ahdieh knows how to pen a story, this was completely enthralling. Though I enjoyed the first installment more, “The Rose and the Dagger,” is a strong follow-up.
What I liked: One of the main pleasures I got from reading this next installment was getting to know the secondary characters more. Instead of just reading from Shazi’s or Khalid’s perspective, Ahdieh writes from the minds of several secondary characters, which flushes out their motivations and makes their support of Khalid more believable. Speaking of support, you actually get quite a lot of scenes between Tariq and Khalid, which I particularly enjoyed. Their relationship is definitely a strained one, but through a series of events and their mutual love of Shazi they develop a grudging respect. Ahdieh’s story is very character driven and I think that is highlighted in this sequel. If you love character driven drama then you’ll enjoy this.
What I didn’t like: Everything seemed to be fixed very quickly and sometimes very confusingly. I want to elaborate here, but I also don’t want to spoil things. Essentially, I feel like because this was so strongly driven by the relationship between Shazi and Khalid and because of that the ‘action’ i.e. the curse and some random political intrigue was incredibly secondary and not as well developed.
Overall, great character-driven sequel that you’ll be unable to put down 5/5.