Genres: YA Fantasy
Source: eARC via NetGalley
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.
And the hype catches me yet again, making me the mouse to its dangerous, cheese-holding mousetrap. With the promise of pirates, assassins, and magic, it lured me in and made me think it was going to be good. Instead, I barely enjoyed reading The Assassin’s Curse.
Though Ananna’s voice sounded younger than her seventeen years and some of the deliberate errors that give her voice a distinctive quality bug me at times, I like the writing style. It has its snafus every now and then (how does one smile with the skin around their eyes?), but I generally had fun when I concentrated only on the writing. When I paid attention to the subject matter, I enjoyed the novel far less.
There’s a fine line between a rebellious character and a bratty character, and Ananna crossed that line soundly. She fusses about everything both worth fussing about and everything not worth fussing about. It gets grating after a while, you know? Naji isn’t much better, what with how he never tells Ananna anything. Yet by the end of the novel, Ananna is somehow in love with Naji. How? She details why it seems strange for her to love him by listing his flaws, but she doesn’t say a word about his redeeming qualities or does anything to make the reader think she knows him deeply. It’s not insta-love, but it sure is baseless love.
One thing that really got my goat was the presentation and characterization of Leila, a river witch and implied former lover of Naji’s. Like the rest of the cast, she is two-dimensional, but she is especially bad. She drapes herself all over Naji and plays with him while barely tolerating Ananna and putting her down. She leads them on for a week and makes them think she might be able to cure them, but nope! No cure! They spend a week there just because she decided to lead them on.
Seriously? Give me better female characterization than that.
Really, this novel isn’t too exciting. They spend most of it traveling and having the occasional encounter that may or may not actually be exciting. I enjoyed everything to begin with, but once Ananna saved Naji’s life and the curse that makes him have to protect her took effect, it all started going downhill.
The Pirate’s Wish, the second book of this duology, comes out next year. I don’t know if there’s enough I liked in this novel for me to read on.