Title: The Moth and the Flame | The Crown and the Arrow | The Mirror and the Maze
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #0.25 | #0.5 | #1.5
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 22nd 2016 | March 1st 2015 | April 26th 2016
It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake – the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury – who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.
– The Moth and the Flame blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.
– The Crown and the Arrow blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.
– The Mirror and the Maze blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
The Moth and the Flame
Ever since we first met them in The Wrath and the Dawn I have adored both Despina and Jalal’s characters; so when I discovered they were getting their own novella I was thrilled, even more so than when I discovered Renee Ahdieh was releasing three novellas. In The Moth and the Flame we see the beginning of Despina and Jalal’s relationship, the constant one-upmanship between the two of them every time they come face to face. Both are strong characters with very set ideals; Despina believes Jalal is nothing more than a player who is interested in one thing from her, and Jalal believes he has a silver tongue which can charm any woman he desires. Both of them meet their match in the other and I loved all their interactions in this short story.
More than Despina and Jalal I loved discovering more about Ava, the first wife of Khalid who brings about the curse with her death. Ava is quiet and withdrawn but it is easy to see the strain she feels. She doesn’t have any connection to her husband but constantly yearns to reach out to him in whatever way she can.
Now don’t get me wrong I did enjoy this novella but of the three it received the lowest rating. It felt like a lot of the development of Despina’s and Jalal’s relationship was just pushed to one side, we skipped past the middle and went from the beginning to the end and I felt that if this novella has been a little longer there would have been more time for the two of them.
The Crown and the Arrow
This is a really short novella, retelling the wedding between Shahrzad and Khalid through Khalid’s eyes. I enjoyed this small glimpse we got of him, seeing what thoughts ran through his mind the first time he saw Shahrzad. Unlike his other brides who met their death the following dawn Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid, knowing her fate will be the same as the other seventy-one. Khalid cannot deny that he is curious as to what has led Shahrzad to choose to marry him and it is that curiosity that leads him to change all the rules when it comes to her.
The Mirror and the Maze
Another really short novella, but one that felt like a bit of an epilogue to The Wrath and the Dawn and a prequel to The Rose and the Dagger. Seeing the destruction that has been wrought on his kingdom Khalid finds himself facing a choice. Shahrzad has fled Rey with her childhood sweetheart and Khalid needs to decide where his place is; with his wife or with his people. I really loved this small scene because I felt it paints a picture of what we can expect to see from Khalid in The Rose and the Dagger. While this novella and the second one, The Crown and the Arrow, were quite short I didn’t mind the length as much because as they were told from Khalid’s POV I felt they built on the development we’d seen for his character in The Wrath and the Dawn.
As for the individual ratings for each novella I would give The Moth and the Flame three and a half stars, just because I wish the relationship between Despina and Jalal had been better developed, and both The Crown and the Arrow and The Mirror and the Maze four stars.
I really enjoyed all three novellas, and loved the new insights they gave to Khalid’s, Jalal’s and Despina’s characters. I do wish each story had been a little longer but they have done their job and made me even more excited to start The Rose and the Dagger.
What did you think of The Moth and the Flame | The Crown and the Arrow | The Mirror and the Maze? Were they favourites of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.