Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry 
Pages: 416
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf


From Goodreads:

Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.


Be still my heart!

The Assassin's Curse is everything I look for in a Special Shelf book: Brisk pace, adventure, questing, hate-turned-love romance, slow burn romance, fun world-building, and two lead characters I love to pieces. Cassandra Rose Clarke has landed herself on my teeny tiny list of authors to auto-buy.

Sleepover party!

It is without the slightest reservation that I am absolutely showering Ananna with sleepover party invitations. She would totally get along with my Special Shelf ladies like Meliara, Lylenne, Yelena, Ismae, and Gabi (or a guy like Sage or Cat). Bonus points—she's a pirate! Much as I loved the male lead, I think I may have been even more enamored with Ananna. 

Ananna's a rough-edged girl and she doesn't hesitate to call a spade a spade. Her blunt exclamations of "OH BLEEP NO! ARE YOU CRAZY??" when presented with dangerous situations had me snickering out loud (it's always nice when a character voices my own thoughts). Though her word choices were not bleeped out, so heads up on that! (I wish she had used fake curses. Real curses didn't fit in with the fantasy world. Also, I can't give this book to younger kids solely now because of all those four letter words).

But, what really made me love her were her imperfections. She has a pirate's brash swagger for sure, but she's by no means an arrogant superwoman. She can swing a sword, but she isn't an expert. She's at home on the sea, but she's still learning things like navigation. She's clever, but she isn't always a step ahead of her adversaries. I loved how her first person narration let me really get into her head and see the contrast between the confident face she showed the world and her inner fears and insecurities.

More often than not, Ananna finds herself in situations where the only response is to throw up her hands, mutter a string of curses at her crappy situation, then throw herself head first into the melee and hope for a miracle. Ananna's the kind of character I can kick back and have fun with and not have to feel like a total skill-less wimp in comparison.

He would be darn near perfect...

...if he weren't named Naji. I mean, seriously, NAGI??? How am I supposed to work with that? I couldn't even squint and pretend his name was something better. I kept pronouncing it all nasally and awkward and that just wasn't doing my swoon any favors. Maybe he can change his name in the next book for stealth purposes?

But, getting past that, he was wonderful! Incredibly handsome, dresses all in black, wears a mask, has a mysterious painful past, smart, sarcastic, deadpan, and he's an assassin. I can't wait to find out more about his past, how he got his scars, the curse, and the huge magical world he's tangled in.

And of course you know I'm all about the hate-turned-love romance. I adored how his treatment of Ananna went from exasperated to tentative partnership to maybe something more. They also get a ton of points for their great banter.

Well, did I get *THAT* kiss?

No, I did not. But, though I am a teeny bit disappointed, that isn't so bad. I'm actually *gasp* glad they didn't kiss yet. The Assassin's Curse is the first book in a series, and my ideal romance spends most of the story simmering and building the tension, but not actually sealing the deal until the end. So I'm perfectly happy with this slow burn romance.

Shut up character girl, talk about the plot!

The plot is all about the questing. The story starts out pretty quickly with Ananna running away and then triggering the curse with her would-be assassin. I love a book that throws me right into the action. The pace kept up at a nice steady brisk (though not fast) pace throughout the book.

After that, I got bounced around all over this fantasy land to all sorts of strange and exciting locations while Ananna and Hot Assassin search for various people who can tell them how to break the curse. Deserts, forests, swamps, the sea, warm, cold, and this super creepy island, plus a bunch more. Adding an extra bit of peril were the TWO groups of people trying to chase Ananna and Hot Assassin down and kill them (which means, yes, there were BATTLES!)

But see at the end of the blurb where it says that bit about "three impossible tasks"? Yeah, don't expect to experience those. Ananna and Hot Assassin only find out the nature of those tasks at the very end of the book. Now, don't let that get you down. I was so swept up in the story that I completely forgot about those tasks and they now serve as a promise of even more great questing to come in the sequel.

Bottom line

The Assassin's Curse is exactly the kind of book I adore, so if your tastes are anything like mine, RUN to your local bookstore and grab a copy ASAP (or be lazy like me and order online). And, look! I waited until The Assassin's Curse was released before posting my review, so no more waiting!

The only problem is that I'm really, really impatient and I don't want to wait all the way until 2013 to read more about Ananna and Hot Assassin. And my impatience isn't only because the book left off on a pretty big point where they're about to embark on even more perilous quests and give me even more romantic tension.

I would be impatient for 2013 even if the book ended perfectly fine as a standalone because I want more Ananna and Hot Assassin in my life right now! I don't even care if they didn't quest and instead sat around braiding daisy chains for 400 pages. I would still be all over that.

This is one of those books like The False Prince or Crown Duel where it could be YA or MG (just keep in mind those curses).

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

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

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  1. I can't wait for The Assassin's Curse! I have it pre-ordered so I hope it arrives soon, and your review makes me more excited :) And I love slow burn romance in series so this got to be good.

  2. *giggles* Love your review and I love when he books makes us all go excited! I LOVED this book too, the world and the characters are phenomenal!

    Oh and I fell deeply in love with Naji and his glowing tattoos!

  3. Oh cool! I was wondering about this book. I wasn't sure to pick it up or not which is why I didn't request it on NG when I had the chance. I will, however, keep an eye out and see if the library is going to order a copy. Otherwise I'll add it to my suggestion list.

  4. I haven't heard much about this book until your review, but it sounds amazing! I've already added it to my wishlist. :)

  5. This is one I was going to pass on but all the awesome reviews has me reconsidering.

  6. Oh, sounds good, Small!
    I think that given the ending you say it has I'm gonna wait this one out until is all done so I don't go cray-cray waiting for the next book.

    Ananna sounds good and so does Nagi but you gotta admit that both names suck a little. :)

  7. WHAT THE FLIP. How can I even BEGIN to describe the deliciousness of this book!! I'm pretty sure you nailed it all. Geeeez I was so in love. From chapter 3 on (the first two had me scratching my head, unsure, but that soon changed!). I mean, seriously, you nailed it all in your review - I agree with you on EVERYTHING!! Except, I did actually like that his name was Naji. It brought a little bit of culture to his character. Obviously, she could have done that with another name, but I still liked it. ;)

    Anywho, GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  8. Okay, you mentioned all the things I want in a book (adventure, great protagonist, hot guy, love-hate relationship!)- and I WANT TO READ IT NOW!

    Love your review!

  9. Fantastic review. I'm like you favorite parts: slow burning love, kick butt, sassy heroine and enigmatic plot line. BUT yes..... I was dying for that kiss!! Naji (agreed way to hard to pronounce and totally unfamiliar) is soooo clueless!

  10. Yup, it's no surprise to me that you loved this one. This book just screamed "Small Book". I just LOVED Ananna, too! She reminded be a lot of Saba from Blood Red Road. And besides the fact that Naji has a silly name and I was pretty frustrated that he didn't seem to notice the obvious, namely that he and Ananna are MEANT FOR EACH OTHER, I did love him, too. I actually surprised myself with the realization that I wasn't upset about them not getting together at the end of the book, too, though. It'll just mean more DELICIOUS tension to come! The sequel has got to be one of my most anticipated books for 2013!


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