Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: The Rose & the Dagger - Renee Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger
Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Man, there were parts of this book that hurt. I started my review of The Wrath & the Dawn telling you I didn't know how to start talking about such an overwhelming book. That feeling returns with The Rose & the Dagger -- there's just so much: love and friendship and war and family and even more and more and more.

If The Wrath & the Dawn is the fun, flirty stage of a relationship, The Rose & the Dagger is where you commit.

I let a few (maybe more than a few) months pass between reading this and its predecessor because I am The Worst and I was really afraid I was just gonna be struggling to remember every event they were referencing (not that I forgot the plot, but some of the specific nuances might have become fuzzy -- it happens). Anyway, turns out Renee Ahdieh's writing is so evocative that just immersing myself into the world of this book brought back all the memories of the previous one.

I don't know how to talk about this book without writing long rambling paragraphs that sound straight out of a seventh graders diary so I'm going to make ~lists~

Things I Liked

  • everything
    • included but not limited to:
      • everyone
  • the minor characters 
    • I think I've discussed (fawned over) most of the returning characters in my review of The Wrath & the Dawn that I linked in the first paragraph if you really would like to get a gauge on them, but for today we are focusing on: ~side characters~
    • They all had so much personality and brought so much to the table and felt like such new, welcome presences and refreshing voices in the book.
    • Irsa
      • Shahrzad's sister
      • can brew medicines and stuff
      • The Cutest 
      • has a secret boyfriend who everyone knows about 
      • yelled at Khalid 
    • Artan
      • reminds me of Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender
      • can do fire magic 
      • also healing magic
      • rides a horned serpent 
      • is an asshole but in a cheeky way like Shahrzad 
    • Yasmine
      • not relevant until the end but still chill
      • cute but angry 
      • nice hair 
      • ~princess~
    • Jahandar 
      • this is not necessarily a character I like himself but strictly the writing of the character, as well as the questions his incorporation asks the reader of what "family" really encompasses 
    • Also, while we're on characterization, I loved the way a lot of the interactions with side characters tied multiple threads from the first book, while also working to resolve the narrative of this book, like Khalid and Shahrzad's meeting of Musa Zaragoza, who Khalid holds a grudge against. 
  • narrative 
    • I liked that so much of this focused on their ~war-time efforts~ and really showed how their entire kingdom was in disorder. The end of The Wrath & the Dawn was about a curse and this whole book could have just been about breaking it and magically restoring everything but it was so much more. Even Tariq, who was unsympathetic in the previous book, while not necessarily seeming nice, seemed understandable in that many of his decisions made sense when it came to the war efforts --> there was no reason for them not to go forward with any of those plans, as they had no stake in Khalid's business.
    • The magic and curse stuff that was included was cool as heck and so well-written. I totally loved it and would honestly read an entire book on Renee Ahdieh's interpretation of mages. 
    • Everyone was seen as three-dimensional. Many books have "good" characters and "bad" characters. Even I dismissed some of the characters in the last book as ones I didn't want to deal with. In this book, surrounded with war and magic, every person is complexly imagined, not just to the reader but to the characters. 
  • writing + pacing
    • writing: beautiful + eloquent + melodious 
    • pacing: slow start (not in a bad way), picks up and maintains average pace, and then super fast!!!!!
      • overall thumbs up for pace 
  • Romance
    • amazing
      • Khalid's and Shahrzad's strength and maturity in this book versus the last is striking 
        • They are a Real Couple
    • something sad happens and I'm still sad about it
Things I Didn't Like
  • nothing tbh
  • I thought one or two of the plot aspects were expected but I still liked them
  • Would also have liked to see more Jalal 
I'm sorry if none of this was ~cohesive~ but anyway I love this beautiful book so much!!! I love it from the stars, to the stars -- if you read the book, you will get that, so go read it and then tweet at me or something okay!!! I don't have anything to give you but I will validate you by favoriting your tweet and isn't that all we really need in life?

Are you a rose or a dagger?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. The minor characters in this book are amazing! However I found I liked the first one so much more and the second one was a little meh for me! But great review and so glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. I can't tell which one I liked more; I feel like the focuses were so different that it's hard to compare, ya know? Like, I don't want to automatically say "oh, I like faster paces so I definitely like the first one more" because I think the pacing in this book makes a lot of sense for the content! I'm glad you liked the review, though!!

  2. I liked this book even better than the first one. Definitely agree with you about the three-dimensional character.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Characters are always what make me fall in love with books, honestly!!