Shahrzad has been forced to flee the fallen city of Rey, away from her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. Now she is back with her family who are seeking safety in a desert camp, whilst preparations are being made for war against Khalid’s kingdom. Shazi’s first love, Tariq, leads this army and he is intent on gaining vengeance for his family. Shahrzad resolves to take action and break the curse which plagues her husband. She must learn how to use the magic within her to evade her deadly enemies and return home to Khalid.
I warmed more to Shahrzad and Khalid this time around. They are both fiery and stubborn, and make a good couple. Granted, The Rose and the Dagger has less romance than the first book, but their relationship has matured.
This book has quite a few unexpected twists and turns, and there is joy as well as sorrow. Irsa, Shahrzad’s younger sister, is properly introduced and she has great character development. One of her scenes in particular made me quite emotional. Despina and Jalal were sadly absent for most of the novel, and while I can understand why, it would have been great if they had more scenes.
Shahrzad makes use of her magic in this installment, although I was expecting her to do more with it. Musa Zargosa says she has a lot of power, but she doesn’t really do anything major with her abilities.
The pace picks up in the last 100 pages of the novel which is full of action. I also appreciated the witty feminist touch towards the end. Overall, whilst I prefer the first book in the duology, The Rose and the Dagger wraps up everything nicely. I enjoy Renee Ahdieh’s writing style and look forward to reading more of her books.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐