- Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
E-Arc copy courtesy of Netgalley and Strange Chemistry
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.
Ananna was raised on board ship by her pirate parents, but when they want to marry her off in return for political support in their war, she takes an instant dislike to her husband to be and runs away. Pursued by an assassin sent by her suitors family, Ananna ends up saving his life instead and being dragged into a curse that bind her and her assassin Naji close together.
This book is very easy to read. Told from Ananna point of view with liberal use of local slang and dialect, it really feels like you are in someone else’s head. There are some great scenes – the fight in the desert, the storm at sea which are well described and visual. I liked the world with the difference between the pirates, cities and ice-islands all feeling part of the same world. Some of these images have stayed with me long after closing the book. There are some intriguing characters that I wanted to get to know better – especially the woman first mate of the ship, but this is really the story of Ananna and Naji.
It is with Ananna and Naji that I had a couple of reservations – Ananna seems easily won over by Naji. One minute he’s trying to kill her, the next she trusts him enough to blindly follow him wherever he wants. I know she is only sixteen, but she feels much younger to me with plenty of teenage mood-swings and jealousy. Naji remains a mystery throughout – I never really felt like I knew his motivations at all. He seems incredible ignorant of women and bizarrely aware of his scar for a cold-blooded assassin. However my biggest issue is with the ending, which seems to arrive suddenly. Not a cliff-hanger so much as just a stop – it meant that the story up to that point doesn’t feel like a coherent plot. This is supposed to make you desperate to read the next book, but I just felt like I was short changed with this book.
There is a cool idea here – pirate girl and assassin out to break the curse on them, and I think this would be adored by some younger teens. However, I was expecting something more.
Recommended for fans of Rae Carson and Gwenda Bond. 6.5 out of 10