Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Written by: Renee Ahdieh
Published: April 26, 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: 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.
I enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn and so I was really excited to read the sequel to this duology. The Rose and the Dagger was a very different read but just as good a read of not better. It had a fantastic and engaging plot, great characters, and beautiful and descriptive writing.
For one thing, The Rose and the Dagger has a lot more action. The way we left things in the last book there is a threat of war and so the stakes here are even higher than they were in the last books. There are tons of thrilling action scenes and plenty of twists that had me on the edge of my seat and kept me reading from star to finish and plenty of twists that caught me totally off guard. There's even more magic in this book and while it was subtle and not as big a part of the plot and world like I usually like, it was interesting and added a new dimension to the book. But I will say, there is a lot going on here with the plot and certain plot lines felt a little short or unbalanced but it did all work together to make an compelling.
I also absolutely love the characters in this series. Shazi is a fantastic female protagonist, for one thing. She's tough and smart-mouthed in a totally prickly and intense way which I always enjoy. I cannot help but get behind her and her struggle. Part of that struggle was to get back to Khalid. He had some great development in the first book and by now I am absolutely in support of his success as well. He's not so surly this time around and I definitely ship them even though the romance in this one was toned down a lot. That wasn't the main focus here and for someone like me who is kind of romancephobic that was really nice. It made the more tender and romantic moments all the more enjoyable because there weren't as many.
But this book is also full of fantastic secondary characters, many of whom we get a little perspective from to help make them more well-rounded. There are characters you love and characters who you love to hate. Some old favorites from the last book are back but I think my favorite was a new character, Artan, who had such a small part but made a big impression. But that's all you need for this book because it has great characterization.
And once again, Renee's writing was beautiful and descriptive. I was very impressed with the lyrical and immersive nature of her writing in the first book and I wasn't at all disappointed with the writing here. It's poetic without being flowery. It's descriptive without being overdone. Because of the writing too, you can fall head first into this world without even realizing. I've been loving Middle Eastern inspired desert fantasy worlds and this is just one more example of them being done right. The world was creative and engaging with lots of inspiration from mythology and folklore of the region but it wasn't a retelling this time so don't expect there to be more stories and 1001 Nights references. This time it's more of a sword and sorcery kind of fantasy which I really liked.
On the whole The Rose and the Dagger is a great sequel to a captivating and creative fantasy series. Here the action and adventure was heightened and the romance was toned down but with likable characters and a great world it was an immersive and engaging experience and a good read.
I give The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh 9 out of 10 stars.
Have you read The Rose and the Dagger? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!