Book Review: The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Number of Pages: 416
Date Published: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 stars
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.
“Since you can’t say it, will you at least tell me how much you love me?”
Khalid ran the tip of his nose beside her ear, a grateful smile upon his lips.
“From the stars, to the stars.”
Warning: Refrain from reading this review, unless you’ve finished The Wrath and the Dawn. Mild spoilers ahead.
Last month, I talked about how Renee Ahdieh’s debut swept me off my feet with its rich descriptive text and swoon-worthy romance. The Rose and the Dagger isn’t any different, minus of course the more moving and action-filled plot and those heart-pounding scenes, especially during the book’s second half.
Again, it was very easy to get into the story. Ahdieh’s writing is beautiful and descriptive, but the latter did not cause any of my attention to drift off the page. It was interesting, after all, to know what living outside the palace, hidden from the Caliph’s eyes, meant for Shahrzad and her troops.
The thing about 1001 nights retellings is that you’ll always look forward to its feministic aspect. I especially liked the consistency of Shahrzad’s character. She is, as we know her, fierce, foul-mouthed, and full of pride, but however flattering these qualities may be, she is still painfully human. Thus, I was more drawn to her occasional displays of weaknesses. To me, it amplified the realness of her character.
“You are boundless. There is nothing you can’t do.”
I also loved the development of Irsa, Shahrzad’s sister, given the amount of hardships she had to endure (not to mention that final straw that Ahdieh decided to pull. Dear heavens, I held a hand to my heart to make sure it’s still beating.)
I wanted to like the other characters, but a few like Jahandar, or Resa, were a little underdeveloped. I also thought there was an abrupt disconnection from Musa-effendi and from Arslan and his aunt. I was also not very satisfied with how the plot moved from its focus on magic, the revelation of Shahrzad’s abilities, and solving the matter of Khalid’s curse, to plotting the end of the brewing war. I just think it could have been smoothened out a bit more.
But as always, there is that final element that just pulls this novel above many others and that is of course, the romance. I thought the Rose and the Dagger couldn’t make me fall any more in love with this ship, but I was wrong. I’ve readily discarded the obvious instalove in the first book after having witnessed the permanence of Shahrzad and Khalid’s relationship. My goodness, gracious. I don’t think I have ever shipped two people so hard.
“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.” His expression turned quizzical.
“You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.”
“Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.”
I’m still a little conflicted about the turn of events, but that was a near-perfect ending. Oh, and that scene just before the heart wrenching conclusion. *sigh* Girl power, girl power indeed.
All in all folks, that was a wonderful duology. Really, I cannot wait for Renee Ahdieh’s next work.
Favorite Quotes from The Rose and the Dagger
No. He was not here to wreak revenge.
For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife.
For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce.
For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.
He was here to burn something to the ground.
“When I was in the desert, I woke each day and carried on with my life, but it wasn’t living; it was merely existing. I want to live. You are where I live.”
Bonus: I am including Khalid’s letter to Shahrzad from the Wrath and the Dawn, because (1) it was mentioned in the Rose and the Dagger, and (2) It is still one of my favorite letters to date
I prefer the color blue to any other. The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment. I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night—
For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.