Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
#2 in the Assassin's Curse duology
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry 
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a review for book 2 in a duology. I mostly avoided spoilers for the first book, but if you're worried, then read my review for The Assassin's Curse instead!


From Goodreads:

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.


I'm torn

I have a totally mixed response for this book and part of that is 100% ME and no other reader will be affected by it, but some was me as a reader and readers like me might feel similarly.

This is also a case of Star Decay Due to High Expectations, because after The Assassin's Curse I had SUPER high expectations for The Pirate's Wish. I mean, I even theorized that The Pirate's Wish could set a new bar in quest fantasy. I guess you could say I was a little over eager?

And, well, it didn't really meet my expectations. It DID, and it even gave me things I wanted and never realized I wanted, but it also failed to live up to my internal hype.

The good: Ananna

Ananna is still AWESOME. After meeting her in The Assassin's Curse she fast became one of my all time favorite fictional characters ever. Well, she is still one of my favorite characters ever.

She's smart, sassy, bold, brave (though never afraid to admit when she's scared out of her mind!) and she's no pushover. She goes for what she wants, and I admire her for that.

I especially love her voice, which is a mix of SHE'S SO COOL and wow, she's totally down to earth! It's rare that I, small, non-adventurous me, can be both enamored and in awe of a character who I can still totally relate with. But that's Ananna.

The unexpected good: The manticore

There's a manticore on the cover and at first I thought it was going to have something to do with the quests. Maybe some beastie our heroes would have to vanquish as one of their many questy actions to cure Naji of his curse.

Or maybe it was just slapped on the cover to give it an "ooo fantasy" vibe.

Either way, I was totally wrong. The manticore is a new character and I love her so much I want to reach into the book and hug her (not that SHE would appreciate that much, at least not that she'd admit).

I was pretty lukewarm on the relationship developments between Ananna and Naji (I KNOW, more on that later), but Ananna's friendship with the manticore totally made up for it! Their banter, deals, and the wary truce they struck that slowly built toward a real friendship was engaging and satisfying.

As much as I'm a sucker for a good romance, I do love friendship relationships and this one is wonderful. If Cassandra Rose Clarke ever decides to write more books about Ananna, I hope she includes the manticore.

Also, the manticore was FANTASTIC in the battle scenes! I never would have thought a manticore was what was missing from my pirate battles, but, yep, it was a definite mark in the win column.

The first half was great

I was reading along and for the full first half of the book I was ready to add The Pirate's Wish firmly on my Special Shelf. It was everything I loved about the first book and everything I wanted from the sequel.

There's a kiss early on, but the combative romance isn't replaced by boring sappy romance. I still felt the tension of wanting *THAT* kiss, which was wonderful because it was pretty much like I got to have my cake and eat it too.

The pacing was also brisk, but not super fast, and perfectly matched the level of excitement and action that characterized the first book. You can basically take my review for book one and apply everything I said to the first half of book two. I loved it. It was wonderful. And then.

The bad: Which was totally MY fault

I read this book on my computer. I don't like reading books on my computer. My brain mentally takes away points simply because I'm reading on the computer. It takes a truly awesome book to overcome that, and while the first half had decimated the little computer problem, the second half couldn't hold up.

I was also interrupted in my reading. This is what happened in my life at the time:

Nice life, nothing particularly happening. Reading first half of book.

Need to put book on hold for a week. Disaster strikes! Small is sad.

Tries to pick up book again. Magical spark is gone.

So, you see, my own stuff got in the way and I think I ended up turning to the book to make it all better, which added even more pressure onto an already over-hyped book.

The bad: Which wasn't ALL my fault

I thought this was going to be a questing book. The stuff that we did do was interesting and there's this part at the end that is definitely, different, but these activities hardly constitute a QUEST.

Also, I thought the impossible tasks were supposed to be, I don't know, HARD to achieve. I mean, we didn't have to go all out and drop a ring into Mordor or anything, but maybe hunt down a few horcruxes or battle with armored bears or maybe tangle with a ringwraith or something.

Mostly Ananna's "quest" was standard fare for an adventuring pirate. Sure, she did things, fun things, but they were of the normal battle one's pirate enemies type stuff. I expected the impossible tasks to require more than the day to day pirate activities (and an interesting but entirely peril-free encounter).

The bad: The romance

I'm cringing just writing this. I'm a total sucker for a good romance and I have to admit to being a little disappointed if there isn't at least a tiny bit of romance in every book I read.

But what's worse than a book that has NO romance? A book that has a disappointing romance. What's even worse is that I was on board with this romance in The Assassin's Curse but then it all sort of fell apart for me here.

My one complaint in the first book was that, while wonderful, the romance needed a little something more. More specifically, I needed to know Naji more (he also needed a name change, but at this point I don't even care anymore).

He was such a closed off character, but I let that slide because I knew there would be a sequel and I was hoping his character growth would come into play there. Well, it didn't. He's just as closed off as he was in the first book.

Not only that, but he seemed less capable. He mostly moped around and whined. He also didn't seem to care for Ananna nearly as much or in the same way as she cared for him. I found myself falling out of swoon with him, and that's a very disappointing thing to feel. His whole character and his romance with Ananna fizzled for me.

Bottom line

Clearly, I am disappointed. But, I'm also super excited and in love with The Pirate's Wish. I think I need to look at the duology (nope, not a trilogy!) as Ananna's story, with Naji just happening to be a part of that story, instead of looking at it as THEIR story. If I do that, then I like it a lot more.

I will definitely re-read both books and mentally categorize the duology as a whole as a Special Shelf book, even if I was disappointed with some events in the second book. There is plenty of room for more adventures and if Cassandra Rose Clarke ever writes them, then I will for sure read them.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about The Pirate's Wish that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews/Goodreads.


  1. I was not as enthralled with the first book as you but I still want to complete the duology. I think my expectations are tempered so hopefully it will be a decent experience.

    1. I hope you do enjoy it. I think having expectations lower than mine is definitely a good thing. I'll be interested in seeing your review. Am I remembering right that you weren't enamored with Naji in the first book?

  2. Well, it can't be that bad if you still gave it such a good rating. And I know what you mean about reading books on the computer. Not the same. Plus second books rarely live up.

    1. I had a really hard time giving a star rating for this book. I'd want to give it more of a 3.5, but there were so many external things that I felt I should bump it up to a 4. And then based on the strength of the series overall, I bumped it up another half star.

  3. Awww, sorry to hear that the romance fizzles! :( I enjoyed aspects of the first book but I wasn't crazy about it. I was hoping that the second book would be an improvement, but perhaps that's not the case... the impossible tasks sound far too possible, lol.

    Also, totally know what you mean about putting a book down and then finding that the spark is gone when you try to dive into it again. That happens to me all the time! I have an embarrassing number of partially finished books in my collection.

    1. I'm not sure if you'll be happy with the romance. And YES! The impossible tasks were totally possible, easily so! I felt very misled by all their build up.

      Spark loss is one of the reasons I don't like reading series before all the books are published. By the time I've waited a whole year, it seems like I'm over it and I end up waiting years and years to pick it up again.

  4. It's definitely so hard to read on the computer...and stopping for a week in the middle? That'll take any book down a few points! Sorry to hear that this didn't live up to your expectations but I'm glad you were able to enjoy it regardless...

    1. Yeah, those were two hurdles that are really not the book's fault at all. :(

  5. *hugs*
    Oh, Smallsie!!
    I get what you mean about a book losing it's spark once you put it down and got distracted by something else (bad or good), and it's sad when it happens.

    1. aw *hugs back* It is sad! Life should know by now not to disturb someone when they are reading! :P

  6. I totally agree with this, " I think I need to look at the duology (nope, not a trilogy!) as Ananna's story, with Naji just happening to be a part of that story, instead of looking at it as THEIR story." Along with you I LOVED the manticore. She was my, hands down, FAVORITE character in the story. The book for me would have been much better if Marjani's secret wasn't involved in the story line and I could have also done with a lot LESS intimacy shared between Ananna and Naji. I liked it when it was more innocent.

    1. Yes, I VERY much agree with you. I really could have done without Marjani's secret and the intimacy (both shared and alone!) I don't think they fit the story or added anything to it. It also seemed to clash with the overall feel of the rest of the book, which seemed more upper MG/YA to me. Very disappointed.

  7. So, I only just read this one because I didn't get to the egalley in time before it expired and then The Book Depository kept losing my copy in the mail. But what's the first thing I see when I finally have my own copy and open it up? YOU!! Haha, and it was SO exciting, I was like, I KNOW HER!! Your quote is in a BOOK and that's the COOLEST.

    But ANYWAYS. Yeah, I was definitely disappointed with this one, as well. For all the reasons you point out really. I think the big expectations really ruined it for me, too. I was so let down with the so called quest to break the curse. It was supposed to be an epic finale, but instead was WAY anti-climatic and easy. The romance too... that was probably my favourite thing about the first book, which is so strange for me because it's not usually my thing, but there was a definite lack of spark and chemistry in this one it seemed.

    The manticore almost saved it all though, I freaking loved her!!

    1. awwwww!!! Thank you!!! I'm still totally stoked that my quote made it in there! I love that you're sharing in my joy :) Thank you!

      Ugh, love how you called it the "so called quest" Exactly. :(

      Wasn't the manticore pure awesome?!! Forget Naji, Ananna and the manticore need to go on pirate battling adventures.


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