Monday, October 8, 2012

The Assassin's Curse

by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Read: October 3-4, 2012
Published: October 2, 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Fantasy

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. (Taken from Goodreads)

The Assassin's Curse is an adventure. Thievery, pirate ships and swords abound. When Ananna of the Tanarau's parents try to marry her off to a rival pirate clan, she runs away. Not happy about her escape, the rival clan sends an assassin after Ananna to finish her off. Things don't quite go as planned for either of them.

Ananna is a pirate and a fantastic heroine. She is spunky, knows how to wield a sword, steal anything she needs and climb the rigging on a ship. Her language is unpolished and she's a bit rough around the edges. But she's intelligent, honest and has excellent intuition. I really enjoyed being inside Ananna's head.

Naji is the assassin sent to kill Ananna for running away from her impending marriage. He is a skilled in the art of killing, trained in dark blood magic and university educated. But for all his deadly abilities, Naji is emotionally vulnerable. He has a disfiguring scar on his face that he tries to hide as much as possible. He is also secretive, and is not always a great judge of character (well one character in particular, whom I loathed). 

I love seeing the human side of characters who have nefarious jobs, and enjoyed getting to know Naji. (Although a different story and person, reading this book reminded me of Valek from Poison Study, who is a pack rat in addition to being an assassin.) I also loved watching  Naji and Ananna interact. 

Ananna and Naji are nothing alike. But they are forced to work together. Though they aren't happy about this arrangement, it's clear that each has something to offer the other. They compliment and contrast each other's abilities very well and truly become equal partners on their journey. Their relationship shifts from enemies to acquaintances to friends to maybe something more, as they slowly build an emotional connection through their shared circumstances and purpose. But the more part is subtle. 

The scenery of The Assassin's Curse is richly drawn. I could feel the temperature changes from desert heat to nighttime cold and see the landscape and colorful people that Ananna and Naji encountered. However, I wish we'd been given a bit more information about the larger world. It seemed to be high fantasy inspired by the Arabian Peninsula (I kept thinking Prince of Persia or Aladdin - for setting, not for cheesiness). I would have loved to have a map that outlined the larger setting. The characters visit a lot of places and I wanted to visualize and map their journey with them. 

The Assassin's Curse is a fun ride. I enjoyed following Ananna and Naji on their adventures. But my biggest issue is that it felt like half a story. Like a tale told over the campfire, split into two nights - with the second "night" (book) not released yet. We were finally getting some answers when it ended. I'll definitely pick up The Pirate's Wish when it releases. But I wish I didn't have to wait so long for it!

Cliffhanger Scale: Medium. No mortal danger, but story is incomplete. 
Love Triangle Factor: It's complicated (not everyone's feelings are clear yet)
Rating: 4 stars


  1. Weeeeee~ Glad to know you liked it! And I hope you enjoyed the slow building of Annana and Naji relationship. :)

    1. I did enjoy their relationship! (I wanted to stab that river witch in the eye!) Although it's another thing that I thought was just getting interesting when the book ended :(. We will anxiously await two together!

  2. First off: I loooovvee this cover! I have always been fascinated with Arabian architecture and design and personally love The Tales of the Arabian Nights and Aladdin, cheesiness and all!

    And like you I also enjoy characters like Naji (nefarious pursuits and all!) So glad to see a review of this one, your's is one of the first I have read, Lauren!

    1. This cover is FANTASTIC. I wish I had a hard copy of this book for that reason alone. I may have to get one eventually. And yes, the Arabian setting and architecture is gorgeous, though this book doesn't go into the building design as much. Its more the desert feel, and crowded marketplaces. Naji is an interesting guy. I love that he has some contradictions and I can't wait for more of him.

  3. Yayyy! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren! I read it a looooong time ago, but it was one of the most startling debuts of the year for me and the relationship between Naji and Annana was simply beautiful! I can't WAIT to see how it improves in the sequel and I am definitely VERY excited for it! :D Fantastic review, dear!(:

    1. Yes. I agree with loving their relationship. And being very anxious to see what happens to them in the sequel. I love that Ananna is so straightforward about it all (to the reader at least).

  4. Okay, so first off EVERY fantasy novel needs a map. Seriously--isn't this in the handbook somewhere? You know, the one they issue fantasy authors with their quills and things. Second, I'm so excited to read this one, and I just get more and more excited with each review that I read. I mean seriously, I have NO explanation for why I haven't read it yet when I've had a copy for MONTHS. Terrible. I'm like you, I love seeing the human side of characters that do inhumane things, and I love a slow burn that grows out of outright animosity!

    1. I agree! MAPS please. I'm a very visual person. YOU NEED TO READ THIS. But prepare yourself for an incomplete storyline. It doesn't end in a horrible place - I didn't feel terribly anxious about it. Just lots of anticipation for what is next. Yes very slow burn. Interesting love story, I would love to talk about it more directly, but you must READ this first!!

  5. Hmm.
    This is one that is interesting but if it has an incomplete feel to it I may wait around since my stack is so doggone high. You all make it sound so great, and I've read really great things about it. I'm sure I'll love it. But I may have to wait for it to be complete. We'll see.

    And yes, please - throw a map in there!

  6. I definitely enjoyed your review. I recently finished this book and was pleasantly surprised. Loved the bride running away on camel, lol.

    Another series I'd recommend is The Cat's Eye Chronicles by T.L. Shreffler. It starts out a tad slow but definitely picks up. There's no insta-love and thankfully, no love triangle. Good series so far. Book #4 comes out soon.


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