After months of staring at this book, wishing that the price could drop just a wee bit so that I may buy it; I finally managed to get myself a copy of The Rose and The Dagger. It feels like it was only yesterday when I wrote my review for The Wrath and The Dawn, so it is quite sad for me to be writing this review since it means that we’ve reached the end of Khalid and Shazi’s journey.
Before I get into this review I would like to make it clear that I adore Renee Ahdieh’s writing technique and her ability to transport me into a completely different world. But what I admire most about Renee Ahdieh is her dedication and continued campaigning for diversity in YA literature. For this reason alone, I will always support her as an author. I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot more from her in the future and I’m so excited for her next book that will be released sometime in 2017.
Having said all that, it makes this post a thousand times harder for me to write, because honestly? I did not enjoy The Rose and The Dagger as much as I thought and hoped I would. I did not enjoy the second and final installment nearly as much as I enjoyed that first one, and I’m going to tell you why…
MAGIC WAS POORLY EXECUTED
When I read The Wrath and The Dawn I wasn’t yet that familiar with fantasy or magic realism in books. And in the months between reading the first and second books, I became more educated on the matter because I’ve read quite a few books in this genre that made me more aware of what elements to look out for. But even so, I remember quite clearly that in TWATD the magic wasn’t explained very well and I felt like it was very vague. This doesn’t change in the TRATD. In fact, I felt like this book would have been amazing if the magic was contained to the curse and not given to characters as well. This gave a new dimension to the story that was never intended to be explored on a deeper level since it was always meant to be a duology, and I think instead of creating a better plot, it made the story feel sloppy.
VERY SLOW PACE
About ¾ of the book was uneventful and to be blunt – boring! I still enjoyed the writing and it still had that captivating air about it where I wasn’t aware of the pages melting away. But I kept waiting for something to happen. And when something eventually happened in the last ¼ of the book, it was just too easy, too convenient and too “happily ever after-ry”. When I got to the last quarter of the book I thought it was going to be an Empire of Storms situation, but it was a really poor ending to this duology that I believed to have so much potential.
KHALID? JALAL? ARE YOU THERE?
I feel like this book sidelined a lot of characters that I really loved in the first book. And I suspect that’s why those novellas were published, but in my opinion those little books did absolutely no justice to the characters in question. I loved that we got to learn more about Despina and Irsa, and even Rahim and Yesmine to a certain degree. But I would’ve loved to have more story for Jalal and Khalid. The few times I got a little snippet of them and their dialogue, it took me back to the first book and I just wanted MORE. I feel like there was a lot left out and so much that could’ve been included. It breaks my heart that this was the last of them we will ever get to see.
I am over books with perfect endings that give up a perfectly painted picture where everything is tied up into a lovely, neat little bow. It’s boring and just a tad overdone. It kills me to say that I wanted more out of the ending. It felt so rushed and flimsy to me. Yes there were a few really tragic events that took me by surprise and truly broke my heart, but it still all came together a bit too easy and at just the right time. I also found it quite unbelievable that everything happened to fall into place. There were so many gaps where something could’ve happened but it just never did… I was more than mildly disappointed.
This duology is kind of like Harry Potter for me in some ways. It isn’t perfect, there are A LOT of flaws and gaps when you take a good long look at it. But I will only reluctantly admit this because I am such a huge fan of the characters and the writing, and I will have no problem arguing against anyone who has something bad to say about it. I understand the bad ratings and I accept that it isn’t the best book out there, but I LOVE it. It speaks to me on a cultural level; it is a book I can relate to as a young woman of colour with personal ties to India. I’m happy it was written and I’m thrilled that there is book on my shelf with this kind of setting. But I have to admit to its faults (I say this with a lot of reluctance, again) and I have to be honest as much as it pains me.
I still love it though, even with everything I mentioned here. The writing more than makes up for it, as you can see…
She’d always loved the dusk. It was as though a hand in the sky had pulled the sun from its berth… only to have the sun fight back, resisting, leaving a trace of itself to fade amongst the stars.
– The Rose and The Dagger, Renee Ahdieh
**If you’re reading this then I’d like to extend my best wishes to you and your family for the festive season. I hope you had a lovely Christmas!