In The Rose & The Dagger, Renee Ahdieh gives us a lovely conclusion to Shahrzad and Khalid’s love story. This sequel to The Wrath & The Dawn features yet another beautiful cover and more of the magic, romance, and intrigue that I loved in the first book.
The Rose & The Dagger picks up from where the cliffhanger ending of The Wrath & The Dawn left off. We get to meet some new characters out in the desert, such as Shazi’s sister Irsa, and a new magic wielder. Shazi is officially a guest of the Balawi tribe in the desert, but she feels like she is among enemies and must carefully navigate her relationships with her former lover, former friends, and family, people whom she once loved and who once loved her, but who now don’t necessarily trust her.
The story covers a lot of ground in its 400-some pages, but is a pretty quick read, with much of the story and plot propelled by dialogue (some which can be a little cheesy at times.) Perhaps because it covers so much, I felt that the ideas, emotions, relationships, and plot were at times a little too simple and too perfect. In particular, I felt that both Tariq’s and Jahandar’s actions and decisions were explained away too simply. They both suffered from loving too much, or loving too simply. So much of what happens in their decision-making and thought process boils down to love, which makes sense given that this is a romance (although not all of the love is romantic/sexual love). But I wanted them to have a little more complexity, and they seemed a little too simple and single-minded. There were some pretty shocking betrayals and plot twists, but even those were explained away a little too simply and a little too cleanly.
The one aspect of Ahdieh’s writing that first captured my heart in The Wrath & The Dawn and did so again in this book is her ability to make me feel for the characters. Very few books can make my heart ache for the characters and their situations and their heartbreaks, but both books in this series have succeeded in doing so, and that’s so important to me in reading a good romance. These books make me feel, but not in a melodramatic way that involves tears and heaviness, but in a lighter, feel-good way.
For all my talk of how the plot, emotions, and ideas are a bit too simple and perfect, they also make for a nice, feel-good, fluffy romance. This series is a worthwhile read if you love YA, romance, and delicious descriptions of food.