Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: I really liked it.
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“Cut the strings, Shazi. Fly.”
Oh wow. What a ride.
I was worried in starting this that I wouldn’t like it that much. I did really love The Wrath and the Dawn, but it was over a year ago that I read it and honestly… I didn’t remember much. And I feared that this would lessen my enjoyment of the sequel. But a quick recap later, I just dove right in and to my surprise, it actually felt like I never left the story. OK sure, there were a few characters that I still didn’t remember all that much (Rahim? Vikram?), but I still fell in love with every single character all over again.
The main reason that it’s so easy to get lost in the story is the writing style. I fell in love with Renee Ahdieh’s writing style with The Wrath and the Dawn and the writing in The Rose and the Dagger is every bit as gorgeous, rich and magical. The writing seems to flow so naturally that every single scene in the book just played out vividly in my head. Reading this book felt like watching a movie. A movie with perfect cinematography, lush colors and beautiful landscapes. Oh, and mouth-watering food. Let’s not forget all the mouth-watering food now!
The characters were a joy to catch up with, or in my case, get to know them all over again. Shazi is a wonderful heroine. She’s spunky and brave and temperamentful and yes, she’s often described as a pain in the ass, but it’s mostly said in awe. It took me a while to warm up to Khalid in book one, but book two just made me fall in love with him completely. He may have a temper to match Shazi, but he’s just so unbelievably kind and respectful towards her that he can thaw even the blackest hearts.
Even with two such amazing main characters, it doesn’t end there. I loved every single secondary character. We got to know Irsa, Shazi’s sister and I enjoyed getting to know her so much. She has such a different personality than Shazi but she is just as fierce in her own way. Then there’s Tariq, who annoyed me in book one but grew on me so much here. His character development was amazing. Rahim, who I admittedly forgot about, but created his own special place in my heart. And though we didn’t have quite as much Jalal or Despina as I would have liked, we did get a brand new character who I for some reason immediately adored even though we first meet him in less-than-ideal circumstances: Artan.
The character highlight in this book though? When the characters start to interact. Especially ones that haven’t really been interacting before. I’m not going to go into details to spoil it for you, but some of my favorite scenes in the book were between two unlikely characters: Irsa and Rahim, Irsa and Khalid, Khalid and Tariq, Shazi and Artan. Though of course, we still have plenty of Shazi-Khalid scenes to swoon over. Magical carpet, anyone?
This story was definitely quite a ride. I was immediately drawn back into the story and felt like it all progressed perfectly towards the inevitable ending. It was full of action, adventure, magic, shock, heartbreak and romance and I loved every moment. Especially the last 20% or so of the story will have you in a mad rush to finish, unable to put the book down because it is just that exciting. Though I had a few small, minor issues with how certain things were solved, overall I adored this book and thought it was a great and satisfying ending. Renee’s writing style is gorgeous and has easily made her an auto-buy author for me.
“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”
“The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.”
“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.”