Thursday, 9 May 2013

Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Book cover of The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
No, I'm not actually back from my illness/grouchy break yet (considering it's actually gotten worse for unrelated reasons) but I found this review I'd half-written and figured I may as well finish it off. The Assassin's Curse was actually sent to me by Strange Chemistry publishers way back last October, but I've clearly been slacking in my reviewing responsibilities. The next book in this series, The Pirate's Wish, is released on the 6th June 2013 however, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Plot summary: Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And 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. To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.

This is a truly great story. Cassandra Rose Clarke has somehow managed to combine fantasy, sci-fi and romance into a very unique book that kept me captivated. We frequently see the same ideas used over and over again in fiction, but The Assassin's Curse somehow breathes a new life into the genre. It has quite a simple plot but I find that it works quite well - books don't need complicated place names and contrived plots to be great.

That said, I do feel it could be written better and emphasis seems to have been given to the wrong points occasionally. The actual event that 'bonds' Ananna and Naji is almost skirted over; it takes a paragraph or two, if that. For something that the entire book is based upon, I would have preferred a little more time spent on it.

I've come to the conclusion that a lot of effort has been put into the story of The Assassin's Curse, but not a lot into the actual book. The characters have unpronounceable names and I found Ananna's dialogue to be very difficult to follow at first. I understand that she's meant to be a little common and no nonsense, but it's always going to stick out when you see sentences full of apostrophes and slang. There are ways to show dialect without typing it out phonetically.

It also doesn't really end. This book is definitely more of a build-up to the next one rather than a book in itself as not a whole lot actually happens. It's more... trying to discover what's going to happen. I did feel quite a bit let down as I would have liked at least something to be resolved by the end.

I'm actually looking forward to the next book quite a lot as I did enjoy reading The Pirate's Curse. I loved the plot, characters and settings but it did need to be tweaked a little somewhere on the journey from story to novel.

Visit Cassandra Rose Clarke here or find her on Twitter.


  1. Hmmmm, well I'm glad you liked it overall! I just bought The Mad Scientist's Daughter by the same author and it'll be my first time trying her.

    I recently read a book (The River of No Return) that I had the same issues with - too much time spent on the wrong things, and more of a set-up for the continuation in a sequel... except no sequel has been announced yet. Sometimes I wish author would write more stand alone books!

  2. The Mad Scientist's Daughter is just stunning so I'm hoping some of that magic has rubbed off onto the second in this series. I really enjoyed The Assassin's Curse but did think it lost its way a bit and had some pacing issues.


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