Friday, May 2, 2014

REVIEW: THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Title: The Assassin’s Curse
Series: The Assassin’s Curse, #1
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5


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.


My first thought when I was about thirty percent into this novel was: why the heck have I waited this long to read this phenomenal book?! The Assassin’s Curse simply blew me away! No, not away really. More like into another fantastical world where the combination of powerful magic, wickedly awesome pirates, and undefeatable assassin’s are the order of the day.

Clarke has created a world in which I don’t necessarily want to live (simply because I don’t have the endurance these characters have to survive such a world), but which proved to be the ideal escape from my own mundane life. As far as YA books go, she breaks away from every stereotypical characteristic and predictable plot device familiar to this genre (I know some say YA is not a genre, but whatev, bear with me). This tantalizing, magical novel is primarily driven by its two strong-willed and endearing main characters, and secondarily by endlessly creative world-building. For me, those are the two deciding factors whether or not I would enjoy a book. But let’s move on to the two characters that made The Assassin’s Curse a win for me. They are what I really want to talk about.

Ananna is in one word, perfect. Not a perfect character perse, but perfect as in this is what I would describe as the ultimate girl protagonist. She doesn’t possess one trait that got on my nerves. Not one. Her stubbornness and deliberate defiance of her parents would’ve irritated me had it not been so skillfully written and balanced by her other character traits such as her making decisions based on her considering the consequences of her actions first. Even though those consequences might put her in harm’s way, she still plunges ahead knowing perfectly well what to expect and being prepared to deal with it head on. That is what I mostly admired about her character. What made me like her even more is that in more than one scene she’s the one that saves her male companion from certain death, instead of it being the other way around. Now tell me, how many books have you read where the girl physically saves the boy from being killed? Not many, right? Ananna is the girl I want by my side when disaster strikes. She handles a sword and a knife like these are extensions of her arms. She makes split-second decisions and doesn’t back away when faced down by an army of pirates sent to kill her. She speaks her mind, but knows when to keep her mouth shut, and this girl can barter with pirates like it’s nobody’s business. Honestly guys, why are you still reading this review and not the book? There’s so much more I want to say about her, but I’d rather you got to know her on your own. You should see the mean punches this little lady packs!

Then there’s Naji. He’s apparently an undefeatable assassin, but I guess Ananna proved that myth wrong. Her good deed unfortunately activates a curse, but on the bright side, she got stuck with a guy who’s so different from any male love-interest I’ve read up to this point. Throughout the story, though, you wouldn’t think of Naji as a love-interest because Clarke doesn’t describe him as such or give any indication that either character has feelings for the other, until the last third of the book. Yet, if you’re someone who can spot the finer details hidden between layers of battles for survival, you’ll easily pick up on the things that might eventually spark an attraction between these two, although it’s rather one-sided. Naji is all darkness, mystery, moody, aloofness, and sinister magic. He sticks to the shadows and hides his face behind a mask because of the scars. So what’s so attractive about him? I really can’t say. All I know is that I felt weirdly fascinated by his enigmatic charm, and that I rooted for him and Ananna all the way.

This brings me to another point. I’ll be really quick about it because there isn’t much to say, but I think romance junkies might want to know. First off, this is not a romance novel, but it has a tiny bit of romance in it. I think the second book might focus more on this element as this one is all about survival. What there is between Ananna and Naji is more an attraction, but like I said earlier on, it is one-sided. This attraction isn’t based on either character’s physical appearance, and not once is the word “hot” used to describe either of them. This “attraction” isn’t immediate and rather builds up gradually through a sequence of events throughout the story. In my opinion, that is the way romance should be written and how two characters should fall in love. I’ll find out in book two whether they actually fall in love or not. By the end of book one I only know how one character feels. And speaking of endings, this one ends with a major cliffhanger. So if you hate cliffhanger endings, this will definitely leave you feeling frustrated.

Finally, the writing took me some time to get used to, and the pacing was a little slow the first forty percent or so. Once it got to the battle in the desert, I was hooked and read into the early hours of the morning, forcing myself to put the book down and get a few hours of sleep. The Assassin’s Curse was a more than pleasant surprise, and even before I finished it, I got myself a copy of the second book, The Pirate’s Wish, in which Naji and Ananna has to complete three impossible tasks to end their impossible curse. Even if you are of the opinion that pirates and assassins, curses and dark magic isn’t your thing, I still think you should give this book a chance if only to meet these two amazing characters. This is not the sort of book I’d choose to read, but I’ve heard so many good things about it, I wanted to find out for myself what everyone was on about. I don’t regret my choice for one second, and I’m positive you wouldn’t either if you give this novel a chance.



Cassandra Rose Clarke is a speculative fiction writer living amongst the beige stucco and overgrown pecan trees of Houston, Texas. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and in 2008 she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Both of these degrees have served her surprisingly well.

During the summer of 2010, she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, where she enjoyed sixty-degree summer days. Having been born and raised in Texas, this was something of a big deal. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.

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1 comment:

Glorious Books said...

I've still yet to pick up this book even though I've heard nothing but good things about it. A book shopping spree is in order I think! Love the review.