Aw, this beautiful Middle Eastern fantasy – even when you have your problems, you’re a beautiful little story. This sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations of the spectacular The Wrath and the Dawn, but that’s simply the difference between a stellar 4.5 star debut and a pretty fantastic 4 star sophomore effort.
< pro > Shahrzad is still awesome
These books are Shahrzad’s books, first and foremost. She’s awesome but still has her faults, which is just as important when you’re trying to write fascinating female characters, not just the surface-level Strong Female Characters. She grew and changed a lot in the first book, and now she has to deal with her new personality and beliefs now that she’s no longer with Khalid. I loved reading about her just as much as the first time around.
< con > she has to share the spotlight
Her sister, Irsa, gets POV chapters in this book as well. I wanted to learn more about Irsa because she felt too thin in the previous book thanks to few appearances, but I wasn’t really ready for her to take time away from Shahrzad’s story. If she had had a bigger role from the beginning, I might have been better with it, but it seems like an intrusion upon Shazi’s story.
< pro > we learn more about some secondary and background characters
Irsa isn’t the only one we learn about in this book. Tariq isn’t such a love-crazed boy anymore, as well as his friend, who gets a romance. It was nice seeing more of these characters, as well as some new ones, but…
< con > it took focus away from our favorites
…yet again, it took the focus away from Shazi and Despina and some of my other favorite characters. It’s to be expected, of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that I just wanted Shazi’s story and I sometimes got fed up with the focus on other stuff. Give me Shazi learning magic and being awesome!
< pro > it wraps things up nicely
We were left with various threads hanging off at the end of the last book, obviously, so it was nice to get more of these stories and see how things ended for all these characters we’ve grown to love.
< con > some of the the twists seemed unnecessary
There were still some unnecessary twists added in, though. There was specifically one that was meant to get to our heart, and it did, but it didn’t feel as genuine as I think it could have. It was the death of a character (don’t worry, I won’t say who), and while I did obviously care about this character we’ve known since book one, it also seemed like it was just there to manipulate us a bit, to make sure that we were emotionally invested in the story. I was already invested though, so it didn’t seem worth it to add it, like it was over the top.
< overall > give me more!
Despite my reservations, I really did like this book and am glad to see that Ahdieh’s debut wasn’t a fluke. I’m really excited to see what else she writes, hopefully always focusing on characters I love as much as Shazi and the gang.
Title: The Rose and the Dagger
Position: Book Two in The Wrath and the Dawn series
Author: Renée Ahdieh
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.