Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh


Title: The Rose and the Dagger
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Format: Hardback 

Page Count: 416

Rating: 



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. (taken from goodreads.com)



As I said in my review of The Wrath and the Dawn, I began this sequel with certain expectations. The cliffhanger in the last book indicated that more magic and action were to follow in The Rose and the Dagger, and Ahdieh didn't disappoint. As Khalid's enemies prepare to wage war on the murderous boy-king, Shahrzad is forced to explore the hidden aspects of her identity and to make extremely difficult choices between loyalty and love. 

Once again, Shahrzad doesn't take any smack from men. She does what she thinks is best in every situation, no matter what others might say. I love her fierceness, even if her headstrong personality gets her into trouble more often than not. 


Magic definitely plays a much larger role in this one. From flying carpets to sorcerers, the fantasy element in Ahdieh's series comes out to play as Shahrzad attempts to break Khalid's curse. I enjoyed seeing more Arabic tales come to life in Ahdieh's beautiful words. 

So, why didn't I give this one four or five stars? It seems like everyone else did. I don't know why, but for some reason... I just felt apathetic about the plot. Yes, I realize that a kingdom on the brink of war shouldn't seem like a boring topic, but I just couldn't bring myself to feel the intensity or intrigue that I found in the first novel. In fact, I had a lot of difficulty bringing myself to finish this book because I just wasn't that interested in the war. I think what made me love the first one was the romance between Khalid and Shahrzad. Their relationship took a bit of a back seat to the other plot developments, which I didn't really like. 


Having said that, the few moments between Khalid and Shahrzad were just as beautiful as they were in the first book. I haven't leapt off the series' bandwagon yet simply because their love evokes all the feels. Although I felt that Ahdieh's first novel was more original and entertaining, she is still a talented writer, and her skill shines through even the more boring parts of The Rose and the Dagger. I'd still definitely count myself as one of her fans. 


            
Sharazad is a force to be reckoned with. Although she might seem overly headstrong and ridiculous at points, 
her unwavering loyalty and bravery won me over. I'll continue reading any book in which she is a main character.