“You can’t escape an assassin,” He leaned forward, shadows swallowing his eyes. “Hangings, bumbling bureaucrats, dishonest crewman, jail – those you can talk your way out of, you try hard enough. But this kind of death is the is the only kind of death.”
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark is the first in young adult fantasy duology. Ananna is the daughter of a pirate captain, one of the most respected families on the Pirate Confederation. Her parents decide to marry her off in an arranged marriage that she wants no part of. So she runs off. And the family of the guy she is supposed to marry sends an assassin after her. This book is how Ananna and the assassin’s, Naji, lives go after they meet.
The world building in this book is not that great. There’s so much that isn’t explained, and it’s such a fantastical world that you will want everything explained more thoroughly. The pirate life, and the assassin life, and the magic is interesting. Apparently mermaids and sirens and other creatures exist too though we didn’t get to see them. They are only mentioned. I did like how many locations we get to see in the world though. We see a city, the desert, the sea, and a magical island. It’s not something that usually happens in books even if traveling is an element.
I’ve seen many mixed reviews for this book, and I think the main thing that will decide if you like it is if you like Anannna. It’s first person in her point of view so the reader is very close to her. I personally love her so that is going to influence how I describe her. She is tough, smart but not educated, loyal, and a complex, good character. Her one goal in life is the be the captain of her own pirate ship which isn’t really a thing because sexism. She’s a good fighter, endlessly determined and stubborn. She does have this thing with beautiful people where they aren’t trustworthy. I thought I would be annoyed by it, but honestly it’s not a big part of the book at all. Ananna is only vaguely described with a bigger frame, bigger boobs, and frizzy hair. The general consensus is she is not attractive which is kind of nice for a main character.
The summary and even other reviews always talk about romance, but really there is none. If you are going into this book expecting a wild romance, you will be disappointed. I haven’t read the second book, but in this one there is only an unrequited crush. It pops up a little bit, but it isn’t a big part of the story at all.
A lot of this book is about survival. It takes a lot of pages between plot points. So in general it is a slow story. This is where I think liking Ananna is key is liking the book. For me, I was fascinated with how Ananna hid and got water, and did basically very simple things in between the big scenes. So I sped right through them, and didn’t notice how slow it was until I finished the book and thought on it. If you don’t like her, it is sure to be a drag, and I think that’s where people struggle with liking this book.
I gave it four stars. I am definitely picking up the next book. If anyone is looking for a short book with a tough, different main character, pirates, assassins, unrequited love, and blood magic, I think you will like it too.