19 June 2016
The Rose & The Dagger
Series: The Saga of Shahrzad and Khalid #2
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
"You're better than beautiful." Rahim took a careful breath. "You're interesting. Never forget that."
This line is now, of course, a bit ironic as it's the opposite of my take away from this novel. I want to say I liked this book. I really, really want to. I just can't. My final reaction at the conclusion was, "Meh". It was okay, and nothing more.
The vast majority of this novel finds Shahrzad and Khalid separated, in order to protect Shahrzad from Khalid's curse that will kill her and make him very, very uncomfortable and unable to sleep if he doesn't. While I liked the short burst of training with Artan, that's about the only exciting thing that happens in this novel, and it occurs over a very short time span.
The rest is just a tale of love, without much magic or suspense or intrigue to help carry it along for people who don't immediately buy into the romance. And for me, the romance isn't that great. Especially since they aren't even around each other for most of the novel. While Ahdieh may have been able to string the story along better with some political intrigue, it's mostly just people standing around talking, with an occasional arrow shot here or there. And when Khalid and Shahrzad are together, it feels like Ahdieh never got a handle on who her target audience is supposed to be. They are married and both apparently madly in love, which leads to some scenes that ought to be at a new adult level, but then the dialogue and the prose write feel more like middle grade fiction. It's disconcerting and a bit unnerving, and throws the balance of the story off.
Lines like 'Had he always been so... tall?' and '"I'm sorry!" She wrinkled her nose.' feel well below par for what should be expected from a novel of this type. And the seemingly endless use of dot dot dot '...' and italicized words got increasingly annoying throughout the novel. While the writing feels a bit juvenile, the plot feels at times almost above the YA range, leaving a very disjointed novel in the wake. About halfway through this novel, it began to feel like an assigned book for a school class I had to wade through to finish.
All that being said, it isn't terribly... bad (see what I did there?). It's just not something I would ever subject myself to sit down and read again. I think maybe fans of pure, romance driven plot might still like it, just because they'll want to know what happens in the end with Khalid's curse. But after the first novel, I thought this second story in the duology could have been much, much better. By the time I reached it end, it felt like, "Eh? Who even cares anymore?" None of the characters really imprinted on me, and so the ending just felt anti-climatic.