The YA genre is rapidly growing, and there are more than a few Fantasy YA. It’s difficult to come up with a fantasy world which is fresh and different, but with The Assassin’s Curse, Cassandra seems to have done just that.
It’s a difficult world to jump straight into, so give yourself some time to adjust as you start. Ananna of the Tanarau is a pirate, and her parents plan to marry her off to another clan, but she soon realises this is definitely not what she wants, so she runs away. This second clan does not like being scorned, and so an assassin is sent after her. When she faces him down, she actually manages to save his life using magic, and by doing so, activates a curse binding them together.
Assassins are nothing new in the fantasy realm, but this is the first time I’ve read about pirate clans, and the world ranges from the sea to the dessert. Added to this is the aspect of magic, the magic of the water used by the pirates, and the darker magic of blood, used by the assassins.
There’s a clever twist to the two main characters – Ananna is what you expect from a pirate, she’s been brought up to get what she wants, and she’s quite outgoing. At the same time however, she shows her age, and needs to grow up as the book progresses.
Naji, the assassin she finds herself bound to, is the opposite, being calm and controlled, and quiet. He also changes during the book, gradually opening up more.
The Assassin’s Curse is a combination of fantasy and adventure, and is well paced. There are a couple of things to be aware of though. Sometimes the language is a reflection of how Ananna would speak, such as the opening sentence: “I ain’t never been on to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.” It’s not overdone, and it didn’t bother me, but it may some. Also, this is the is to be followed by a sequel next year. Ananna’s and Naji’s story is not yet completely told, but it does end at a natural pausing point.
If you’re looking for something a little different, this combination of fantasy and adventure, blending pirates, assassins and magic, may just be for you!
Published by Strange Chemistry 4th October 2012