The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Adieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
View on Goodreads
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.
I feel like The Rose & the Dagger was probably of about the same quality as The Wrath & the Dawn, however I enjoyed it a lot less.
I think the fundamental flaw in this sequel is that watching people fall in love is a heck of a lot more interesting than watching people be in love. With Scheherazade (yes, I will probably continue to spell her name the old-fashioned way for the rest of forever, get over it) and Khalid already established as the true-love-like-nobody-else-will-ever-experience couple, there just wasn’t a lot to keep this book going. Sure, Ahdieh built up several side couplings, but they just didn’t get enough page time to keep me particularly interested.
So, what, you expect the entire book to just be a love story? Okay, no. That would be awful. But the plot in general just had a few too many things going on. Breaking the curse, the war, trying to reunite Scheherazade and Khalid, training in magic, destroying the book, whats-his-name trying to kill Khalid, rebuilding a broken city, yada yada yada. It was just waaaaaay to much. It threw off the pacing, and gave the book a kind of disjunct, meandering feeling. Also, the end, completely stupid.
So with the plot and the romance not holding me in thrall anymore, problems with the writing started to REALLY grate on me. If I ever read the phrase “boy-king” again, I might just dnf the book. Like, it was fine at first, but at the point you’re using that phrase three times on one page you’re over-using it and need to find something else. Calling people “boys” in general! If they’re old enough to get married, they’re not boys.
But far and away my biggest pet-peeve was the constant use of sentence fragments. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fragment user myself. They work sometimes. But when there are five or more sentences in a row that are ALL fragments, that’s a problem. It sounds dumb. At one point I looked at the page and realized there was only one comma on it. Ahdieh seems to have just decided to replace them all with periods! Example:
“They rode from the city in a rush. A clatter of hooves. A stream of wind. A trickle of sweat.
But not a single word.
This small band of battered men.”
Okay. That’s two PARAGRAPHS that are each a sentence fragment. At this point it looks more like a poem than a novel. Maybe that was the intent? I don’t know, it bugged me.
But overall, I did still enjoy this novel. I found the setting continued to be captivating and the politics intriguing. I thought the magic was unique, while still paying homage to the traditional tales. I loved the strength of the female characters. Though all four women were unique, they each had a strong personality and didn’t wait around for men to tell them what to do. Even if that was a little out of context for a novel set in the ancient middle east, I ate it up.
So I guess I would recommend this book if you liked the first, but warn you not to expect a masterpiece or anything.