Book Review: THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh

Title in white on a box in front of a blue and white tiled pattern

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3.5
Series: yes - second book in duology



Book cover for THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER: title in white in front of a dagger and rose petals on teal silkThe darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This book falls into the category of “liked, but very few opinions”. It’s one of those books that doesn’t elicit an emotional response – unlike the first.

Shazi and Khalid spend much of the book apart, which probably is half the reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I love their dynamic and all the tropes around uncovering secrets. In place of them, there’s Shazi and Tariq (and he’s annoyingly jealously for half the book then finally gets his head knocked on straight and accepts she loves Khalid), Isra and Rahim (sweet, but not earth-shattering), and Khalid and Jalal.

Khalid and Jalal’s relationship is the standout part of the book. It’s all betrayed cousins fighting with loyalties – and I love it. I wish they’d had more page-time to explore Jalal’s messy feelings and how it affected Khalid.

The writing felt a little more overdone in this one, or maybe it was because I wasn’t as engaged in the story that I noticed it more. In particular, I noticed it the most in Jahandar’s chapters, where most of the writing was in the form of short sentence fragments acting like their own paragraph.

He also has very sudden character development. He’s just there for much of the book, generally being selfish, and then he acts suddenly at the end once everything feels like its been tidied up. The way he acts feels so out of character in his final chapter, all very quick and undeserved.

The book does wrap up the duology nicely, but it’s not as enjoyable a book as the first one.

Read my reviews of other books by Renée Ahdieh:

The Wrath and the Dawn (this series):

Flame in the Mist:

The Beautiful:


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