ARC Review: “The Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin’s Curse (The Assassin’s Curse #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

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Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

2 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Strange Chemistry for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 2nd, 2012

They say that the first few pages of a book will alter your perception of every page thereafter.

This is exactly what happened to me with this book.

In the first few pages, a lot of things happen. A LOT. Usually, this would be a good marker for me. However, the problem was that each and every event snapped my suspension of disbelief and threw me out of the world of the book. If you’ve never heard the term “suspension of disbelief” before, it just means the reader’s ability to believe in something fantastical in the plot or in a character or so forth. In fantasy novels, often if the suspension of disbelief is snapped the reader will cease to believe any plot twist that happens after that point.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

I absolutely adored this premise, don’t get me wrong. I had such high hopes that maybe I couldn’t help but be let down. But the unfortunate thing about Ananna is that she never thinks about what she does. There is no preamble or thoughts about abandoning her fiance–which, by the way, means abandoning her entire way of life, her family, the sea, etc. She just gets annoyed with her fiance-to-never-be talking, sees a camel and is like “SO LONG, SUCKER!”

It gets worse from there.

Perhaps part of the problem was that the world building was never particularly solid. I got the main points about the world in which Ananna lives–which seems like a darn cool one–but several things I wanted explained never were. In fact, I got so annoyed with Ananna’s calm accepting of things being left unexplained (big things. All the small things Naji didn’t explain, she shouted “Bullshit!” and got up in his face about it.) that I started counting every time there was some phrasing of “And she let it slide” or “She knew he wouldn’t continue, so she let it go.” Ananna is established as the kind of girl who WOULDN’T do just that.

Another minor annoyance: dialect. I saw no particular reason that every once and a while Ananna would say “gonna” or “’em” or “ain’t.” This only works if you’re Zora Neale Hurston writing Their Eyes Were Watching God, folks.

The last half of the book does even out, but by then I was just too far gone to be able to really like the book. I didn’t believe in the plausibility of the plot and the characters were a little too cookie cutter for me. I really liked the action that took place in the second half, though, and that’s what kept me reading all the way til the end–it literally wouldn’t let me stop.

The magic in this book was also awesome. I’m a huge fan of elemental magics, and this one didn’t disappoint. There is also a lot of USE of it, which is nice. As I said above, there is also plenty of action–as you would expect from a book where a main character is an assassin.

All and all, this book just defeated any chance I had at really loving it right from the beginning. There are only so many crazy choices I’m willing to believe before the plot leaves the realm of plausibility, and this one threw way too many at me right from the get-go. It redeemed itself slightly in the second half, but that was no thanks to the characters or the plot twists, but rather the action and the setting (this book TRAVELS). I also felt as if the end of the book made it feel like a great deal of the middle never had a point at all in the grand scheme of things. I may read the second book just because I like the world, but it won’t be a definite get for me.

The second book in the Assassin’s Curse series, The Pirate’s Wish, will be released in 2013

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