The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Genre: Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series: The Assassin’s Curse #1
Expected Publication: October 2nd 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
It took me a while to come to my conclusion on this story, but then I realised that I really adored the novel. This book really left my thoughts in a muddle because it was entirely unexpected. We start out seemingly simplistic with a runaway girl on a camel and then the story blossoms into one of wit, adventure, magic and most of all friendship. It’s truly stunning! Not only that, but this is a novel where the cover doesn’t deceive you about the story, it is truly beautiful and captures the essence of the tale.
My connection with the main character was instantaneous; I truly found it hard not to love her. Ananna has to be one of the best female characters I’ve read! She was independent, strong, fiery and her humour really had me giggling away. Since she took on a more dry, sarcastic tone to her humour, I found that I could really appreciate her character.
“Well, I think we should discuss the matter further.” I stood up. “This don’t just effect you, you know. I had plans. And they didn’t involve tiptoing around so some assassin wouldn’t get a headache.”
When you first meet Naji, it seems that he holds much of the power in his hands being some great assassin and having all these abilities that he’d be above Ananna. But when she talks to him, she brings him to her level and thus we watch their friendship evolve and blossom over the novel. There is an undercurrent of romance, but most of this falls on Anaana’s side, since it’s in first person perspective, it’s hard to gauge Naji’s response whilst he remains so elusive. The romance in this story takes a very back seat and even by the end of the novel we still seem to be waiting for more. Since this is part of a series, I expect future development on the romance to take a stronger tone to the future novels. However, it doesn’t take anything away from not having a strong romance and I think this shows the versatility of the young-adult genre.
Naji was a very mysterious and confined character. It seemed like getting any information from him would be like pulling teeth, so Ananna’s humour was very much needed to balance out his surely behaviour. Particularly when he became difficult.
“We’re close,” Naji said.
“Close to what?” I was hoping he’d trip and give me some kind of hint as to where we were headed.
“And what’s in the canyon?”
I didn’t even care that he was weaseling out of telling me anything important. “A river?” I said. “Water?”
“Water generally comprises a river, yes.”
Whilst he might have been a little bit abrasive and surely, he was cute and insecure and I really wanted to cuddle him and beat the bitch who was mean to him with a broomstick. The poor lad was besotted with the river witch and I didn’t like her one bit. Although, my view was probably ever so slightly influenced by Ananna’s hatred of her too.
Naji thought he was a strong “hero” but didn’t overtake the story with swooping in so many times, since Ananna was equally capable of saving him. Therefore I felt Clarke really brought a balancing act to the novel between their characters.
I though the plot was fast, action packed and thrilling. The setting changes were exciting from the dessert on a camel, to the canyon on a river boat or on an island full of dangers. There wasn’t a moment where we were simply drifting in boredom. I appreciated the ever changing setting and pace of the novel from fights to magical cures and emotional trauma.
“Maybe he’s turned into a fern and I was ripping him into shreds in my fear. I dropped the fern and I stepped back, almost stepping into the fire.”
The magical aspect of this novel was strong, and Ananna’s naivety of magic and sometimes the boundaries was really amusing. However I felt like we could have delved more into the magic aspects and the spells and Naji’s assassin’s world. However, Clarke explains the secrecy, but I feel like I really need to know more about this to understand Naji as a character. For me, it would be interesting to view the world through his eyes for the second novel because I feel like then we’d uncover more of the world and the magic that surrounds it.
I may have a desire for knowledge of more about the worlds and the magical spells that Naji performs, but the writing itself was beautiful. Clarke crafts a scene that brings the smells, the streets and the sea to very life and it wraps you up and really drags you into the pages of The Assassin’s Curse.
Clarke has set up a thrilling debut here, with a lot of potential for more in the second novel. I urge you to pick up this fantasy novel when it hits the shelves because pirates, magic and adventure can be found in abundance and the novel is not corny at all.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.
* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.