27 May 2013

The Assassin's Curse - Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna is the daughter of a pirate captain. She is being forced into an arranged marriage for the good of the clan. That is, until she runs away on the back of a stolen camel, in her wedding clothes, with her husband-to-be shouting after her. The Hariri clan isn't too pleased about that, so they send an assassin after her. Somehow, Ananna saves the assassin's life, leaving him cursed to protect her from harm and her stuck with him. Ananna unwillingly tags along in search of a cure to the curse, a journey that turns out to be more dangerous than she anticipated.

This story is filled with adventure, peril and magic. The story is simple, and yet the scope for what could happen to the protagonist is huge. It keeps you guessing, because the moment magic comes into the mix, you have no idea what the characters are capable of.

The book is a quick read, mostly because it is so engaging, but also because it is quite short. It can get a little bit formulaic at times; apart from running away, Ananna doesn't exactly make things happen, things happen to her. The character who really pushes the story along is Naji, the assassin. Therefore it tends to read a little like the Wizard of Oz; this happens, then this, then this...

The characterisation is well done. The two main characters are well-rounded, with different drives. The way that Ananna and Naji interact is both amusing and engaging. The assassin keeps mostly to himself, as you would expect. He is secretive and lethal, but he also has a vulnerable side, which you can just see through the layers of moodiness. Ananna is no pushover, either. Being brought up as a pirate, she knows how to look after herself and she has no intentions of being stuck with some morose murderer. However, things change, and soon she finds herself defending the man who would have killed her.

The story is written in first person narrative, in Ananna's voice. This is good as then we get Naji's story as she discovers it. Her style of speech is manifested here with double negatives, curses and slang. Some people may dislike that the author has done this, but it feels more real, like Ananna is literally telling you the story.

It is a very thrilling read, however, there is one rather large flaw, in my opinion. This book is only part one. The end, if you could call it that, leaves the reader right in the middle of the story arc. It isn't exactly a cliffhanger, but it's close enough. It means that you absolutely have to buy the next one to find out what happens, but you also have to wait for it. It's not out until the 18th of June. Some people might be OK with this, but I am not one of them. It is a personal preference that I finish the first book in the series with a sense that I could just stop reading if I wanted to; that the story was perfectly rounded off. The fact that I am forced to read the next one, rather than just wanting to in order to find out what happens to the characters, is quite frustrating. I found this was also true of 'The Selection', which was, again, a great book.

Without this flaw, it probably would have got and 8 or 9 out of 10, but instead I am giving it a 6.

Image from Amazon.co.uk
PS: What an awesome cover!

The Witch's Betrayal, a short story, is out now on Kindle. The Pirates Wish will be out on the 18th of June.