Pirates, Assasins, and Magic. Oh my. I think my interest in The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark is evident. It didn't disappoint. It was just as fun as a book about a Pirate Princess reluctantly attached to a Magical Assassin could possibly be.
Ananna is not happy about the future her parents have prepared for her. She is to be married off to another pirate house in a business deal. When she flees from her wedding her spurned would be in laws send an assassin after her. Ananna then, in an instinctive move, saves the life of the hired assassin and activates a curse. Now he must protect her or die himself. Extremely reluctant companions, Ananna and Naji must travel the desert and high seas, finally arriving at a dangerous and otherworldly island to try and find a cure for their predicament. With, of course, all the requisite adventures and romantic tension along the way.
The story is plot heavy with a lot of action scenes, peril, and blood. Lots of blood. It is a fast paced read and engaging from start to finish. The story has a true sense of place even though Clark did not bog her story down with details regarding the world building. It is there and it is vast. She doesn't explain it. She uses small details to form the world in the reader's minds and it is obvious that there is more behind what is actually being seen. Everything known about the Empire, the Confederation, the Assassins, the Mist people just left me wanting more. She is good at creating atmosphere too. I felt the sweltering heat of the desert and the glacial cold of the island.
Ananna is awesome. I loved this girl. She is the first person narrator of the story and she sounds like a girl raised on a ship by pirates. In every way. She uses slang and curses like...a sailor. Her grammar is deplorable. She is not unintelligent but her speech and thoughts reflect her education level. She learned the math required to navigate a ship quickly and used it well. She is a tough girl who knows how to fight. She can wield Naji's sword as well as he can. She is completely ordinary looking and has a great distrust of beautiful people. I enjoyed her immensely. Naji is harder to figure out, because the story is told from Ananna's viewpoint and the reader has exactly as much information about him as she does at any given time. He is not forthcoming with more. The result is that I found myself responding to him exactly as Ananna was. Which means I have a serious crush on him now. Their relationship is fraught with tension. He is used to working alone. She is annoyed he doesn't tell her things. He clearly has major issues with things in his past. So does she. They're equally protective of each other by necessity. They need each other to stay alive. Both are equally eager to rid themselves of the curse. Yet a real friendship does develop between them and I loved this. The are wary allies at first. They become friends. Ananna does develop feelings for him, but are the unrequited?
There are other interesting secondary characters too that fill out the story in places.
The book is YA, but is one that I think would find an audience with adults who don't typically read YA as well.
I should warn you that the end resolves absolutely nothing. It's not a cliffhanger, just unresolved. There is going to be a sequel, which I will most definitely be reading, expected out next year. It will be called The Pirate's Wish. The author has another unrelated book out in the spring called The Mad Scientist's Daughter, which sound intriguing. A little creepy, but intriguing.
I read a copy of the book given me by the publisher via NetGalley. It's US release date is October 2. The UK release date is October 4.