Book Reviews 2014 · Fantasy Books · Young Adult Book Reviews

‘The Assassin’s Curse’ by Cassandra Rose Clarke

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.

4 Stars

I’m not sure what to say here. This book ended up being one of those books which you can never settle on an opinion for. I went into it not knowing entirely what to expect. I heard that it was a brilliant duology, and that the publishing company was shutting, so decided to pick up copies of ‘The Assassin’s Curse’ and its sequel ‘The Pirate’s Wish’ before print copies became hard to come by. I ended this book absolutely in love with it, but I have to say that my feelings for it were not consistently positive, creating a problem when it came to scoring it. I just couldn’t settle on an opinion.

I completely despised the first 50 pages. I started this book in early September. I read about 40 pages then, and found it rather strange; I did not like the style of writing, and the plot seemed overly confusing (although to be fair, I was reading this late at night and was practically asleep). It took me until mid-October to pick this up again, and even then I spent just shy of a week struggling through the next 60 or so pages. It was only in late October, when I pushed past the 100 page mark, that I actually began to fall in love with this book.

Once the book got going, I found the plot so compelling. Before then, I found aspects to be overwhelmingly complex for the style of book it was trying to be, moving at a pace which did not entice me at all, and I was tiring very quickly. However, when it got going, it really pulled it out of the bag. I adored both Ananna and Naji, and when the plot progressed past the slow-moving beginning, it actually went in an original and interesting direction. I did adore the three ‘impossible’ tasks that the pair have to embark on to free themselves (however, I thought that we would see them start these tasks during this book, as they are mentioned in the blurb; by the end of the book, the tasks have only just been established).

The writing style grew on me a lot. I did not know before starting, but this book is written in a ‘different’ way; it is narrated in the first person by Ananna, and her thoughts are presented in her ‘pirate dialect’. This means that a lot of the sentences contain slang terms, and are not technically grammatically correct. This grated on me a lot to begin with. I just could not get used to the slang, as I do not usually like books written with modern or incorrect words used instead of perfect English. I do have to say that at some point in my final push to read the book (I can’t even pinpoint exactly when), I realised that the narrative style was no longer bothering me. Once I had gotten used to it, I can see that it was an ingenious move to write in this way, as it gives a greater depth to Ananna’s character and enhances her sense of view on the story. Now that it no longer bothers me, I think that it was a perfect move, but it did take a very long time to get to a stage where it did not annoy me.

The last 200 pages warranted an easy five stars, but I had to dock a star for the excruciatingly slow start, which nearly made me put the book down. I am so glad that I persevered, as I eventually fell in love with it. If the whole book was like the last 2/3, this could be on my favourites list. Shame that ‘The Assassin’s Curse’ was not consistently amazing. However, I do now have very high hopes for ‘The Pirate’s Wish’, the conclusion to this duology.

Twitter @emmathereader

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