I just want to warn you all that the next weeks on this blog I am going to review a whole bunch of Cassandra Rose Clarke, both books as part of The Assassin’s Curse and the Hanna Duology. So be warned! It’ll be delightful. If my experience reading The Assassin’s Curse was any indication, I’d say you’re in for a stormy few weeks with amazingly complex and fierce heroines and storylines that will make your heart jump.
The perfect Goodreads synopsis with a little background and a whole lot of intrigue: 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.
Can I just say this right now, and this is dangerous for me to put this online, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over female pirates. Take me prisoner and make me work on your ship, because when they are done right they are absolutely delightful – and also downright dangerous. Ananna wants to become pirate of her own ship and here begins my love affair with the series. I absolutely adored Ananna’s character. She is one of those heroines who jumps into danger, leaps headfirst, and manages to land on her feet. It isn’t a calm collected brilliance or even intelligence, but a gut instinct that lands her in trouble and saves her at the same time.
That being said, I liked Naji, the Assassin, but at some points he got to be a little annoying – but it’s part of his character. Naji is convinced he has to protect and save Ananna because of this curse she activates. I hate one of those “I’ll protect you, please do as I say, and don’t leave this circle I’ve confined you in”. But at the same time, it forms the foundation for their relationship. Naji is unused to letting people in and trusting others. It is much easier for him to take the entire burden on himself, and he just generally doesn’t know how to be a team player. He’s certainly not a team assassin.
I liked the entire magic process. It unfolds before us and we really get to see how it’s done. The fact that Ananna is also genuinely curious and asks a lot of questions helps and it’s refreshing to see magic laid bare (but not entirely of course). We can feel the setting all the way from our parched throats to our itching fingers that desire to finally be free. And here’s another thematic cornerstone – this desire to be free and to be found/belong. At varying points during the novel we have our characters trying to be free and this conflict between wanting both freedom and belonging. I think this is a pretty universal desire in a few aspects. Many people want to be free to sail the seas, but at the end of the day belong to a community – have a safe space.
This series has incredible promise, one that I intend to hold it to and follow it through. But the ending of this one leaves on a semi-satisfying cliff hanger that demands you read the next. On one hand I liked this blatant ending – it leaves no mystery of a sequel – but on the other hand it’s also frustrating to be left that way! The plot moved slowly at the beginning and knowing there’s a sequel definitely helps you wait it out – I personally don’t mind slow books at all. So if you at all enjoy this one, you have to check out the next. And if you at all enjoy brave heroines, pirates, and magic, this is worth checking out.