“I ain’t ever been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw. You know how in the temples they got those paintings of all the gods and goddesses hanging on the wall above the row of prayer-candles? And you’re supposed to meditate on them so as the gods can hear your request better? Tarrin of the Hariri looked jut like one of those paintings. Golden skin and huge black eyes and this smile that probably worked on every girl from here to the ice-islands. I hated him on sight.”
Ananna of the Tanarau clan flees when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan, to Tarrin of the Hariri. She can’t stand the thought of marrying him, flying a ship with his colours rather than her own. So she runs, but the Hariri aren’t happy and they hire an Assassin to kill Ananna. To Ananna the assassins are just a story, told to trick children into doing what their parents wanted, but that’s before one comes after her. When she comes face to face with the assassin that has come to kill her she is bounded by a magic that she doesn’t understand the power of and she accidentally curses the assassin, bounding him to her for all eternity.
To break the curse the two of them have to find a wizard and they set off on a journey to the northern isles, the isles that Ananna was trying to run from in the first place. Their trip isn’t easy though and on the way they have to battle other assassins, floating islands, runaway nobility, strange magic and the growing tension between the two of them.
I had been looking forward to this book so much since it landed on my doorstep and I’m not quite sure how I left it so long but thankfully, during one particularly rainy Saturday I cracked it open and escaped to the desert with Ananna and Naij. Oh how I wish I didn’t have to return.
To be perfectly honest the story is amazing, its full of action and adventure and I loved every second, even when not a lot was going on. There was a friendship building between Ananna and Naji all the way through once they were connected and it was great to watch that build and develop. The back of the book claims that there is romantic tension between them but I didn’t really get that to be a huge part of the story, I got more of a friendship feel but I think that might be because of an aspect of the story that I don’t want to say much about, concerning Naji and a witch we meet in the book. The bond created between the two of them is harsh for them both and I loved the magic that we encounter throughout the book because of it. Naji gets a headache and is sometimes in terrible pain if he isn’t protecting Ananna and she’s so stubborn that happens a lot and it puts them in danger. I loved how much the bond meant that the actions of one impacted the other and I loved the adventures they found as they were trying to get the curse broken. I probably would have liked more background of the pirate upbringing of Ananna too but I think there was enough to satisfy my needs in what she mentioned of it all, I really did love the part of their journey done on a pirate ship!
The characters were interesting but I would have loved to know more about Naji, he was badly scared and it was hinted at how beautiful he was before he got the scars but I’m not sure that it was ever explicitly said how he got them (unless I missed that but I don’t think I did!) I think one of the things that put me off the idea of Naji and Ananna having a romantic relationship was my perception of Naji.. I saw him as a lot older, like maybe 30-35 ish and Ananna was only 17 so to me he appeared more as an older brother or father figure to her. Ananna was an awesome character, she was stubborn and the main reason for her running away was the hatred of the fact that she would never be allowed her own ship – my kinda girl! I loved that she was so free willing and she actually listened to her instinct on many occasions. She was a little annoying in the sense that she did stuff knowing it would hurt Naji but you could tell that the romantic tension was there for her definitely as she grew to have real feelings for him. You don’t get to meet many characters in the book and I don’t want to say much about a lot of them but I can say that I loved how perfectly crafted they appeared, the witch Leila was an amazing character in the sense that I could seriously feel her presence on the page, even if she wasn’t that nice a character.
I had originally assumed, possibly because of the cover, that this book was aimed more at the 9-12 range but I was definitely wrong in that sense… it has a lot of older themes in it including swearing and death – in fact not only death but actual murder – so it is definitely a teen book more than anything else. This didn’t put me off at all though and I really did love every minute of the book. Things finished in a great place for the story but I am kinda hoping there may be more as I think there’s scope for a second book.
The Assassin’s Curse will be published on October 4th by Strange Chemistry. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can read a guest post from Cassandra on my blog here.
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