Books: The Rose & The Dagger

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The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

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.

Books: The Wrath & The Dawn

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The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The young adult genre is full of fantasy romance novels that all have pretty similar storylines and characters, and The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is no exception. But this book is also an exceptionally well-written one that stands out among its peers and is exactly what I wanted it to be. The cover is beautiful and there is magic, politics, secrets, and intrigue, but for the most part the story is light and at its heart is a beautiful love story that transported me to another world and into another life.

The Wrath & The Dawn is pitched as a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights and I definitely had Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphony playing on repeat in the background as I listened. Shahrzad lives in Khorasan, where each night the young caliph Khalid weds a new bride and each morning that bride is killed. When her best friend becomes one of the caliph’s victims, Shahrzad voluntarily enters the palace as his next bride and vows to be the last one. Her plan is to assassinate him, but instead she finds that the mystery behind the dead brides is not as simple as she thinks, and she slowly falls in love with Khalid. Of course, her family and friends outside the palace have no idea what’s going on and think she’s lost her mind or been manipulated by Khalid. Both her father Jahandar and her childhood sweetheart Tariq take it upon themselves to rescue her from the caliph, and both Khalid and Shahrzad face enemies and threats from all sides.

The story is well-written and full of vivid descriptions, which was a welcome change after reading a lot of literary pieces that were minimalist in their visual descriptions and didn’t waste words. Ahdieh has a fascination with eyes in her writing, and sometimes I was a bit skeptical as to how eyes can shimmer and shine and express all sorts of emotions just by sparkling and existing. It wasn’t quite enough to make me annoyed, but it was enough to get my attention (in a bit of a bad way…)

The plot is captivating, but it’s mainly Shahrzad who steals the show and my heart in this novel. She is pretty much my ideal female protagonist: she’s strong and sarcastic, she can handle difficult situations with elegance, but she’s not flawless. I could feel the strength of emotion and magnetism between her and Khalid.

The ending is pretty abrupt, which is perhaps the worst part of the novel, but I also like these kinds of endings, and I have the sequel readily available to read, so I probably don’t hate it as much as someone who would have to wait a year or two to get a continuation of the story. Overall, The Wrath & The Dawn is a great romance that is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for a lot of romance and a little bit of something more.