The Rose and the Dagger

A(nother) book based on a fairy tale: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Why I picked it: This book has been on my TBR pretty much since last spring when I finished The Wrath and the Dawn. I’m a huge fan of retellings (in case you haven’t already figured that out yet), and Ahdieh’s reimagining of Scheherazade and her king was beautifully written and fun to read. This was an automatic Amazon pre-order.

Blurb in brief: “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.”

What I thought: This started slow for me. I reread The Wrath and the Dawn last month in preparation for the release (ah, the days when I remembered everything I read with stunning clarity), but even with the first half of Shazi and Kahlid’s story fresh on my mind, it took me about 150 pages to get my bearings. Ahdieh introduces some new characters whom I loved—her little sister, Irsa and the magical, maybe genie, Artan (seriously, did he come from a family of genies? That was never really clear to me). The relationships that developed between Irsa and Rahim and Irsa and Khalid were very sweet to read. Artan was a saucy delight; my heart has a soft spot for prickly-but-charming, irreverent male characters (see: Roshar, The Winner’s Trilogy; Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire). I could have done without the lingering love triangle with Tariq, who definitely needs to read the classic scroll, The Calipha is Just Not That Into You.

The story wrapped up quickly—I was thumbing through pages towards the end, concerned as to how Ahdieh was going to finish in time, and for a fleeting, horrifying moment, thought maybe this was going to be a trilogy after all.

But it wasn’t! Ahdieh manages to get all her loose ends tied up before she ran out of pages in a way that was very satisfying. If you’re looking for a love story with a sense of history and a dash of magic and mystery, this series is a great read!

My rating 4/5; Goodreads rating 4.45/5

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