Monday 11 June 2012

Guest Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

I ran a competition to win an ARC copy of The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke a few weeks ago and the lovely Caroline also known as Musing Dragon won it. She really enjoyed the book, but as she doesn't write reviews on her blog, I asked her if she would like to post one here, which she kindly sent to me. So here is Caroline's review of the The Assassin's Curse which will be published by Strange Chemistry in October.
Goodreads Summary 
Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate's Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.
When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself -- she lacks the talent for it -- but she's not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman's magic fails.
Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin's life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her -- or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.
Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free.

I’ll start off by saying I’m not a book reviewer, this is my first attempt. My reading also extends far and beyond young adult novels, though I do read a fair few of them.
Having won an ARC of The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark through Serendipity Reviews and publisher Strange Chemistry, I felt that I should give something back with a review... so here goes!
Firstly, the cover of The Assassin’s Curse is stunning, it will stick out from the sea of Gothic pretty-girl covers a mile off at the book shop. It was the cover and synopsis that actually got me to enter the give-away (I’m not really an enter-everything kinda gal, I figure if I’m not that fussed and I happened to win, I’d be disappointing someone who did really want it!). I am a sucker for pretty covers, but hey I’ve discovered some fantastic books this way and The Assassin’s Curse is no different.
Onto the story itself, I was nearly bowled over at the word ‘tits’ two pages in, but then our heroine is a pirate, so what did I expect? I’m just so used to the niceties of most YA novels, it was actually quite refreshing as I sure as hell hear worse from real life kids standing at a bus stop.
The start was maybe a little lacking on emotional background, almost like the author was eager to start on her heroine’s adventure – why is Ananna so against marrying Tarrin of the Hariri? Throughout the book she seems so in love with her family, the sea and life as a pirate that it seems a bit ‘out-there’ to do a runner in a town slap bang in the middle of a desert with no supplies or cash. But it’s soon apparent as an impulsive act, one which is key to Ananna’s character throughout the rest of the book. It sets her apart from most YA heroine’s who, with the same use of first person perspective, treat us to an endless stream of over-analysing teenage angst when decision making. In true pirate style, Ananna sees a problem, acts and bares the consequences.
The hero is slightly on the moody secretive side, but you can’t help liking him as he gets a pummelling through the book. To stop you dismissing him as weak however, there’s a great part on board ship where he reminds the crew (and the reader)not to underestimate him and his profession.
I think I was expecting more seafaring action, but what I actually got (and was by no means disappointed), was to delve into a city reminiscent of Arabia – markets selling pots of gold make up, bolts of fine fabrics, the scent of roasting goat meat skewers on the air. We get to experience the desperate heat of a desert, the cool relief of finding water and through their journey, the growing respect and trust between our initially suspicious hero and heroine.
Both lead characters by profession can handle themselves in a fight, but ultimately it is Ananna that gets them through the book with her upbringing as a pirate, intuition and negotiating skills. It’s such a pleasant change for a female lead to do the rescuing - if you’re a fan of the age old ‘knight in shining armour’ fantasy, prepare to be turned on your head. Personally, I hope The Assassin’s Curse sets a new standard for YA heroines!
I initially thought this was a stand alone novel but am overjoyed that it looks like the characters will be returning. The Assassin’s Curse is a true stand out in today’s YA market.


  1. Yay! Caz la does a review! *plans to make her do loads more* book sounds excellent!

  2. Really liked this book, lately I feel almost 'YA' fatigued, the romance is always kinda cliched. This book was a wake up call :}

    1. I can't wait to read it myself now. I just downloaded it from Net Galley.

  3. Well done on your first review which told me everything I wanted to know about the book. Here's to many more.

    1. Isn't it a fabulous review. Caroline did really well.

  4. The immersion into Arabia sounds wonderful to me. I love the cover too!

  5. Caroline, I think you should write reviews more often. :) This was fun to read! I wasn't all that interested in this book before reading this, but now it's going on my list. Thank you for sharing!!

  6. You did excellent with your first review :)

  7. Terrific review I can't believe its your first attempt. Please do more for the lovely Viv


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