The Rose and The Dagger Review/Discussion

Ok ah this book. Don’t get me wrong I did like it, I just found myself disappointed with the ending. I just feel like this series needed to be a trilogy and not a duology because there were so many things that were underdeveloped. Also, so many things were just wrapped up really weird. So just a warning I get pretty brutal with my review but it’s only because I expected so much more from it. I gave it a 3.5 stars so I really didn’t hate it and I flew threw it, it was just afterwards I noticed all the plot issues. I thought book 1 was much better, though book 2 did have some redeeming qualities within the mess.



First of all lets just start it off with the biggest disappointment…the magic.

What even was that?

I had an issue with it in the first book but I figured she would expand upon it better in the second book. However, I was worried that with how little it was developed in book one, that the last book wouldn’t be able to properly address and develop upon it. Unfortunately, I was right. For example, it was so odd how Artan told Shazi she had to be trained in magic before she could meet his Aunt, but then later he completely disregards this and takes her anyway. Even when he said she would probably be killed if she had no control of her magic when they went to visit. It was such a disappointment because I was so convinced that this would be a great training montage or something and her magic would finally be properly addressed!😦


Speaking of her magic, this book committed not one, but two magic sins: instamagic and useless magic. In the end her magic seems to come out of nowhere (I honestly still don’t even understand how it worked.) I think any book that has a character with magic needs to establish that the character either A) already learned how to use their powers in a time before the book began or B) have some sort of training sequence establishing them gaining control of their powers. This had none of that. Also Shazi’s magic seemed really useless to me. She used it like twice the whole book, once to burn through some shackles that were already going to be melted anyway (she just made the process a little faster) and at the end to grow a rose for her son. Literally what was the point. Didn’t they say in the book she’s supposedly more powerful that her father? Honestly he’s the one of the two of them who actually performed any magic that seemed impressive and actually furthered the plot. Ugh, this all just made me so angry. It all felt so incredibly unnecessary and underdeveloped.


Also the sex scenes at the beginning of book one what even was that? Like you blinked and they were gone! I’m not saying I needed some big descriptive Fifty Shades sex scene but I literally didn’t even know that’s what was happening until she said later one that they had already had sex. That’s a problem.

I’m only getting started here. Lets talk about this stupid curse. I have some questions and some complains. First of all why exactly was it this big secret? Why couldn’t anyone know about it? Wouldn’t that have been a lot more convenient to have just been like “Hey people of my kingdom, I was cursed so that I have to kill 100 of y’all to save everyone else, sorry I know it sucks but logically this is the right decision.” Like that could have saved literally so many problems. I just feel like they didn’t address why the hell this was a secret! And don’t tell me Khalid didn’t want people to “know what he had done” because I’m sorry but not loving your wife isn’t nearly as bad as randomly killing your new wife every night. Also why did they have to be his wife? The curse just said he had to kill a person each day! Why did he have to marry them first? Guess I’ll never know…


Furthermore, though this curse was the main issue in the entire first book it became almost irrelevant in book two. I felt like it was broken so easily and then they moved on like it was no big deal! Wasn’t this the whole goal of literally the entire series? And don’t tell me that as the world developed we realized the bigger evil was Khalid’s Uncle because literally he destroyed him no problem. He spent the entire book saying “ya he doesn’t pose a real threat” and then it was actually true. No plot twist. Nothing special. He literally defeated him no problem. I guess I am just confused where the conflict of this story lies. It’s not clear or well developed. Sigh.

Also are Khalid and Jalal good now? Because she didn’t really address that. Like that was such a heartbreaking fall apart they had and then there was no resolution of it! I need to know what happened between them after Despina came back and agreed to marry Jalal! I needed closure damn it!

Last ranty thing, what happened to the bow and arrow? I love when a heroine is highly skilled in something whether it be killing, the piano, or in this case the bow and arrow. The first book talked about Shazi’s skill with the bow and arrow a lot and made it seem like it was really important. But then in book 2 it wasn’t really mentioned. Which leads me to ask (again) what was the point? Why couldn’t she have some bad ass girl power bow and arrow fight with Khalids Uncle? Or literally anyone! Why was this completely dropped from the book?  I was just waiting for it to become relevant again but when I finished the book I was just left confused. This just really made me angry. I wanted this to be important.


Ok I know I said last rant but this stems off of that comment.

Speaking of Shazi being useless, Shazi was pretty useless. During both books I felt like she was consistently a victim. She was always being saved by Khalid and never really gained her independence and proved she could defend herself (bow and arrow skill, I mean come on!) Yes, she had a few (literally like one) instances where she actually defended herself but for the heroine of a fantasy novel her character arc almost seemed to go backwards not forwards! I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a big moment for her in the end of book two, it was just all so incredibly anticlimactic. I finished it and thought “that’s it?”.

Now to get into some nicer stuff…


Tariq absolutely drove me crazy (I swear this is going somewhere positive) so when he accidentally hit Shazi with the arrow, all I could think was “hell ya, serves you right”. Now if we are being honest here, Tariq has a point. In the book he is in love with Shazi, thinks she’s in love with him and only knows Khalid as this brutal murderer. In all honestly, if this was real life we would all be on his team. However, this is fantasy, so of course we love the mysterious, sexual, misunderstood man (as cliche as that is you know you love it, and bonus points if they are royalty). Also the reader is influenced by Shazi’s and Khalid’s pop obviously! So back to what Tariq shot Shazi, I just felt like that was a great moment of karma that was very satisfying as a reader. Obviously I knew Shazi wasn’t going to die, because duh, so that moment, for me, was all about Tariq’s guilt, and I loved it .

Sucks to suck Tariq.

Ok lets just appreciate this quote for a minute:

“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.”

This quote really stood out to me for some reason and it was in a pretty inconspicuous place in the book. Irsa thinks this as she is walking to go see Rahim’s dead body. I don’t really have anything to say about it I just really appreciated it.

I really enjoyed Renee’s writing style throughout these books. Her advanced vocabulary not only helped the reader connect with Shazi’s intelligence but it also helped establish the time period. I was confronted with new words just often enough that it wasn’t annoying. I would look them up (or just use context clues), appreciate them, and then move on. This is something I wish would appear in more young adult books. I think it would be great for readers who love young adult but still wish to expand their vocabulary (like me).

Lastly, my favorite part in the book and the part that really tugged on my heart strings took place right after Rahim died. Surprisingly, this scene was extremely short and took place between Irsa and Kahlid. Irsa approaches Khalid and basically asks him how he could you let Rahim die and in response he just pulls her into a hug and holds her while she cries. This moment just felt so incredibly genuine and I adored the way these two characters relationship progressed throughout the book. I have always really appreciated when the romantic interest of a story is able to create a strong relationship with their love interests younger sibling because it really helps you feel like their are apart of the family. I feel like that may have been part of the reason I was team Gale during The Hunger Games. Katniss has such a special relationship with her sister (I mean she volunteered to basically die for her) and so Prim also having a great connection with Gale gave him points in my book. I love witnessing the moments between the siblings and the love interests (sadly these are pretty rare in books) where they can talk alone without the sibling/partner needing to be there. This probably stems from me being a younger sister and always loving when my brothers girlfriends take the time to befriend me and get to know me personally and not just in relation to my brother. I just think family, especially in fantasy books, is so important and if you can add this element to it it’s really special.

Originally posted on

Published by Danielle Greene


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