Title: The Rose and The Dagger
(The Wrath and the Dawn Book 2)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 26, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
[Spoilers for The Wrath and the Dawn, only keep reading if you haven’t read the first book.]
I’m in love with your story. From the stars, to the stars.
I missed all the wonderful descriptions of food, but I was filled with satisfaction by your magical storytelling and selfless, brave characters in this conclusion to the Wrath/Dawn series. When finished with the book, I just sat smiling for some time (before I turned my Kindle back on to reread certain scenes!). Though there was less mystery to unwind, you succeeded in bringing all our characters together in a dramatic fashion with well-timed twists in a story worth retelling on platformed beds with green silk cushions. Like Shahrzad, you griped and enticed me to the very end.
Khalid and Shahrzad’s worlds expand and collide in Rose/Dagger. Shazi is back with her family trying to unravel Khalid’s curse while being held prisoner by those she loves. We get to know Irsa, Shazi’s sister, who is steady and faithful (I love her and Khalid’s relationship!). Tariq’s character could’ve gone many ways as a lover scorned, but he, along with many other characters, chooses to put others before himself, and quickly realizes that rash decisions made out of anger and fear can be disastrous. This story does not conclude without heartbreak, but it draws these characters together in a more poignant conclusion.
“Sometimes, “ he gasped, “the family you choose …is stronger than blood.”
Khalid smiled again. “Because it reminds me that all things come at a cost. That every decision we make has consequences.”
Khalid and Shazi’s relationship continues to blossom now that they have fully confided in one another. There’s no real angst in this story, but their love is more mature, secure—with plenty of romance to still melt your heart.
“It’s late,” Khalid said. “You should sleep.”
While there’s magic in the first book, Rose/Dagger delves into that secret world even more with magic carpet rides, flying serpents, and powerful sorcerers. This was also the area most left unexplained in the story. Artan and his Aunt Isuke have stories untold. Theirs is a promising spin off if Ahdieh decides to go that direction. I hope she does. I’d love to read more from her in this mystical world.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Another aspect I loved about this story is the feminism. Aunt Isuke is the most powerful sorceress we encounter in the world. Another female character takes a role of power at the end of the book. And Shazi, of course is a force to be reckoned with—Khalid even suggests she rule his kingdom instead, and she agrees, but laments that she’s not a man. I particularly like the following scene, when Khalid is infuriated that someone has hurt Shazi, and this is her response:
“I hate your scars, too,” Shahrzad murmured. “But skin is skin, be it a man’s or a woman’s. And pain is pain. Don’t lament mine more than I do yours. And trust that—if ever there comes a time when an injustice is done to me—you will be the first to know.” She pressed a kiss to his injured palm. “And I will stand by your side as we right it.”
They’re relationship is beautifully balanced.
Everything could be hate, bloodshed, and war— but Renée Ahdieh tells a story about honor, courage, and selflessness, about finding hope and reconciling family.
“Take help when it is offered, Khalid-jan. True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”
Themes everyone, adults and teens, will appreciate.
Age recommendation: 16
Language – none
Drugs & Alcohol – none
Sex – Intimate moments between main characters. Like the first book most things are suggested more than graphically depicted, but there’s a sensualness that keeps these books more appropriate for older teens.
Violence – Shahrzad narrowly avoids being raped; everyone carries daggers and swords around threatening people’s throats; several characters are stabbed, and one gets shot with an arrow.
My Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.