Published by Penguin Young Readers Group on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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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.
No. He was not here to wreak revenge.
For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife.
For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce.
For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.
He was here to burn something to the ground.
A very worthy sequel and conclusion to this magical, romantic story.
I said in my review of The Wrath & the Dawn that I’m just not much of a romantic person. I hate instalove, most love triangles, and generally prefer romance to come behind more dangerous and exciting things. That being said, there is something about this world, its curses and its magic, that completely melts my heart.
The Rose & the Dagger has the same evocative, beautiful writing as the first installment, but it is less about the romance. Don’t worry, though, Shahrzad/Khalid shippers still have plenty to swoon over, but the relationship is more mature, less angsty, but no less emotional in this book. The time for flirtations is over – a curse must be broken and a kingdom must be saved.
From magical books to flying carpets to giant serpents, this rich fantasy takes us on a rollercoaster ride. Many relationships and friendships are tested, challenged and broken apart as we discover more about Khalid’s curse and the characters we think we know.
There is much betrayal and many surprises (some real jaw-droppers!) over the course of The Rose & the Dagger. The writing flows with gorgeous description and the perfectly-told drama and action scenes propel the novel along at a fantastic pace.
I particularly liked the introduction of Irsa – Shazi’s younger sister. She is a very different kind of character. More nervous, not quite as comfortable in her own strength and ability, but this made it all the more satisfying when she was able to overcome her hesitations when it was required of her. It is infinitely more impressive to see a woman overcome her fears and decide to be strong, rather than simply being born that way.
Perhaps most of all, I love the final rise of “girl power” at the novel’s climax. 1,001 Nights is a sexist story at its heart, and I was a little concerned about the way The Wrath & the Dawn simply turned it into a lusty romance. The novel ends on a high, powerful note for the strong, flawed, complex women of the novel. And I appreciated that touch a lot.