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The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke – review
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.
What I expected: I’m not sure what I expected with this one. I saw the cover and title and immediately wanted to read it. I may have skipped the blurb altogether. Oops. Sorry. So, I expected some sort of fun Arabian-themed pirate swashbuckling story with a young protagonist based on the cover.
What I got: I didn’t exactly get what I expected, but that is pretty much my fault. I got a female pirate of the young persuasion who is completely out of her element in this story and must rely upon others for help, and she doesn’t always make the right decision. I got an ineffectual assassin who is burdened with a curse and disfigurement and now a young pirate maiden whom he must protect at all costs.
What I enjoyed: I liked the prickly relationship between Ananna and Naji and how they slowly learn bits and pieces about each other as they learn to get along and work together. I liked that they were so normal – making mistakes, being jealous, getting sick or hungry or grumpy as we all do.
What I did not: I felt that the hinge of the plot, the reason Ananna runs off, was not something the character would have done. Not only did she wait until the last minute to decide to take off on her own, but she doesn’t do any planning ahead, so she ends up running around blindly, knowing that breaking of the engagement would result in assassin coming after her, and she just runs and then just stops with no clear thoughts. Yes, she’s young and youngsters often don’t think things through and end up in the middle of a situation that they have no idea how to get out of, but, as the readers, we get to know her mind and how it works, and this is a character who knows exactly what she wants and how to go about getting it done. And yet, here she is waiting until the last minute to run off completely unprepared. The Ananna head I was inhabiting would have packed a bag, had money stashed, worn extra clothing underneath the dress, and armed herself to be ready to run off as needed.
Cover Talk: I love this cover, from the soft blue background and the stark and simple silhouette to the filigree framing and the moon directly behind the sailing ship. The title font is nice as well – with complicated fonts like this, often they look good in a large version and not so much in a smaller, thumbnail version. However, in this case, in the smaller version the particular look of the font attracts the eye even if it can’t be read, which is what you want – more eyeballs being drawn to the image.
Recommended: Yes. I believe most people who enjoy YA adventure stories will definitely enjoy this one, as well.