Published by Strange Chemistry on October 2nd 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn't really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.
To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks--all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic...and the growing romantic tension between them.
So, I finally tried the much-recommended The Assassin’s Curse after all this time. I recently tried Clarke’s adult novel – Our Lady of the Ice – and found it painfully slow, but I wanted to see how her YA book compared.
The Assassin’s Curse was not as slow as Our Lady of the Ice and I was able to finish it, however, I am a little surprised by all the hype. There were some parts that I had to push myself through and I can say I have no desire to read The Pirate’s Wish.
Firstly, there is no world-building. Occasionally, I can forgive this when the scope of the novel is small. Like Death Sworn, which takes place within a cave. However, this book moves from the seas, through towns, through desert and swamp, back to the seas and to the dark “Isles of the Sky” and I have no idea what’s going on in this world at all.
I’ve learned nothing about the system of magic, nothing about the laws and ruling system, very little about the geography, very little about the pirates and their ways/customs… very little about anybody or anything.
The story begins with Ananna running away from her parents and her life as a pirate to avoid marrying into another pirate clan. This is a very emotionless undertaking – how does Ananna feel about leaving her parents? How does she feel about their desire to marry her off? Because, honestly, she seems unaffected. She simply runs away.
The pirate clan then decide to send an assassin after her. But, in a bizarre twist of fate, Ananna accidentally saves the assassin’s life and triggers a curse – one which forces the assassin (Naji) to become Ananna’s protector. Neither of them is particularly happy about this, so they set out to break the curse.
I’m starting to realize that I am not fond of journey books. The kind where the major plot points happen at the start and end of the book and the in between is one long-ass journey between the two. I think it also weakened Walk on Earth a Stranger, though it weakened this book more.
The long journey between triggering the curse and getting to the person who can help them find a cure is so slow. Of course, it’s peppered with random bits of action, fights and chases, but it all feels like filler to pad out the book. I had to force myself not to skim read.
Also, I think this type of plot structure *might* work better if the characters were more interesting and had more chemistry. Not necessarily romantic chemistry, but at least some spark of something between them, because pretty much the whole book is made up of interactions between Ananna and Naji, and damn, they are so dull together.
Ananna is more likable if you enjoy cardboard cutout “strong heroines”, but Naji is just cold and boring. I never felt any emotion for him.
Clearly, Clarke is just not an author for me, but I am glad I finally checked this out for myself. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this book three years ago when it was first released; back when strong heroines and broody assassins were not quite so overdone and would have been right up my alley. Oh well.