Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Assassin's Curse, #1
Published: October 2nd 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Paperback, 320 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

The Assassin’s Curse, Cassandra Rose Clarke’s debut novel, is an exciting and unusual adventure filled with pirates, magic and, of course, assassins. It’s a must read for everyone who’s grown a bit tired of the same old, formulaic stories. This book could never have a girl in a pretty dress on its cover.

Here’s something I’ve noticed in Clarke’s adult book (The Mad Scientist’s Daughter), and it’s even more pronounced here: she tends to write slow-developing, complicated and subtle romances. Sometimes they’re so subtle, in fact, that you can’t even be sure they’re there. She doesn’t hesitate to throw a third, fourth or even a fifth person into the mix, and she doesn’t hesitate to let that third (fourth, fifth, you get the picture) person win. While I recognize and even appreciate the originality, I don’t always like it. Call it a personal flaw if you will.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure (and please take into consideration that I’m risking my life by writing this down because there will be quite a few bloggers willing to come for me with torches and pitchforks), I must admit I didn’t like Naji all that much. I understand why a girl like Ananna would be drawn to him after growing up in such unusual circumstances, but I guess that, somewhere along the line, I’ve outgrown characters like him.

”Yeah,” I said. “This is Naji.”
“I was expecting a little boy,” Marjani said.
“He acts like one sometimes.”

And he does. For a trained assassin, Naji acts far too much like a twelve-year-old boy, and his behavior was just too off-putting for me. He takes the whole broody-and-mysterious thing just a bit too far. I like a dark, quiet hero as much as the next girl, but for me, there really wasn’t much to like about him.

In terms of plot, The Assassin’s Curse is seriously underdeveloped. After an excellent introduction in which our heroine, Ananna, escapes an arranged marriage on a stolen camel of all things, the usual narrative structure quickly becomes neglected, if not altogether abandoned. Even the ending wasn’t the cliffhanger I’d expected. Instead, the book just sort of ended at a pretty random place, there was no real climax and the resolution never came. A few questions were answered, but nothing was actually resolved.

What I really did like about The Assassin’s Curse was the language. A lot of people thought it was inferior to Moira Young’s writing, i.e. the dialect she used for Saba, but I think the two were created with different things in mind. They serve different purposes, and they are both excellent, each in its own way. Ananna’s language use cleverly emphasizes her lack of education and social finesse without disrupting the fluidity of Clarke’s prose or taking away from the reader’s enjoyment. In other words, it is different and useful, but by no means impenetrable.

Considering that this is the only positive thing I’ve written so far, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that I didn’t like this book, but I honestly did. I just felt that there were enough positive reviews out there and that I could afford to be brutally honest and critical. The Assassin’s Curse is certainly worth your time and I hope you’ll give it a chance.


  1. I understand what you mean about Naji, so don't worry I won't be coming at you with my pitchfork, like at the ending, he was totally clueless for some tough assassin! I'm hoping that we get to delve into his character much deeper in the next book and by then he will come to the realisation fast. I haven't read Moira Young's books yet, so can't really compare Clarke's writing, but I think Clarke did an amazing job! I just wish she'd hurry up and bring book two out already! :)

  2. well, i loved the assassin's curse. I loved how much idea Cassandra Rose Clarke put into the novel. her main character is superb and i am so happy that she is not the typical girly-girl. I loved the language of the story, too.
    And yes, I have to agree that naji is not the dream guy. He was just so moody and strange. but maybe we will see a different side on The Pirate's Ship!
    GREAT review, Maja!
    Your constant reader,

  3. I've been wanting to read this book lately, so I might just do that soon. Great review!

  4. Assassins: great.
    Pirates: double great.
    Combined: awesomeness!

    Despite the flaws, I really like the concept and the sound of this book. I don't know if I will like Naji, but I guess I need to find out myself :D I'm not sure about the subtle romance with a lot of characters, but I haven't read anything like that before.

    The only thing that sounds a bit disappointing is the ending/plot, but I think that the language will make up for it :) Are you thinking about reading the next book?

    Great review!


  5. I've heard a lot about this book but I haven't had the chance to read it yet. I'm not sure if I'll be reading it anytime soon but I'm glad you liked it even with all the faults.
    Great review :)
    World of Books

  6. I like that you had a slightly differing opinion from most of the reviews I've read Maja, it's nice to know the flaws as well of the merits of any book before I pick it up and I enjoy seeing how my opinion compares:) Glad you enjoyed this one overall even if you did have some issues, it seems like it's still definitely worth the read!

  7. Hmm. I'm glad you pointed out the shortcomings even if you still liked it overall. I do want to read it, but I don't think it will be any time sounds like a book I'd get bored with.

  8. I enjoy your review after seeing so many glowing reviews. I'm not always loving the additional romantic interests that sometimes accompany the subtle romances but sometimes I do... it all depends on the execution. So, now I'm very prepared for that part of the story. I also think Naji would bother me as well as I get sick of those characters quite easily as well. Again, now I'm prepared and I think I can better appreciate the book. YaY! For honesty!! :)

  9. I know I am right with you on this review. I didn't have problems with what's his name but I felt the same way about the plot it starts out so great and I loved the fleeing on a camel and Annana's daring but the ending was like a total wtf....I think I would have preferred a cliffhanger to that one it just stopped and there was not exciting climax. I was a bit put off personally by the grammar because I am a snob but it totally made the character. Anyway it was fun though and I loved the idea of a female pirate. As usual we agree. High five book soul sista!

  10. I haven't read this book (let's hope that those people with torches and pitchforks) but I've heard only amazing things about it. This is as matter of fact the first well negative review! You know what - I'm not curious even more xD I wanna read it and see will I like it or not :)
    Thanks for sharing and great review :)

  11. You know, Maja, even though you did critique this book quite a bit, it still sounds like something I really have to try. I know what you mean about actually liking a book, but feeling as if you come off not liking it in your review. Anyways, thanks for your thoughts, as always! I'll be interested in comparing notes when I finally get around to reading it!

  12. This is such a great mixed review! You're right, the positive view has already been expressed a few times. It's cool to see someone with a different take on things. I think I'm actually with you about Naji. To me, he seemed very distant and inscrutable. I hope that we find out more about him in the next book. I guess it was Ananna that I really loved. Now I need to read The Mad Scientist's Daughter!

  13. Aww, I'm sorry this one didn't work out as well for you as it did most readers, including me. While I do see what you mean about Naji, I think he was one of those "tortured heroes" type of characters that I always can't help but fall for and seeing his more vulnerable sides were amazing. I did think the hint of a love triangle was incredibly stupid, can't deny that, and I'm glad you still enjoyed the novel overall. I can't wait to dig into The Mad Scientist's Daughter soon, especially since you rated it higher than this one! Wonderful review, Maja! :)

  14. Thank you for feeling the way I felt about this book, Maja! Frankly the plot absence and Naji being whiny and immature really put me off and I came out of the experience disappointed. There are good bits in this book, but there is not enough of them for me to get interested in reading further, which is a shame. :(

  15. I really loved this book but I did have a slight issue with Naji always being injured and needing help. I think I wanted him to be a bit stronger, or survive things a bit better. But I still absolutely loved it. I'll have to look into her other book, I don't think I even knew she had one, though I do recognize the title now.

  16. It's really too bad that the book didn't work out fully for you, Maja, but I completely understand why. You made it pretty clear in your review. I have to agree with you on the romance. I knew that a romance would eventually develop between the 2 characters, but I didn't think it would too slow. It was a little infuriating. Naji was a very mysterious character, but you make a good point when you mention that he takes the whole mysterious/broody thing a little too far.
    Thank you for your honesty, Maja. I'm glad that you liked the book even with the issues you had with it! Lovely review as always!:)

  17. I can completely understand liking a book even though it has flaws, even if they're only apparent to you. I have read so many positive reviews of this and the beginning sounds fantastic, I think this is a fantasy worthy of my time :) Wonderful review, M!

  18. I started this a while back and couldn't, for the life of me, get into it. I couldn't even get past chapter one. I'm definitely putting this in the back burner for now.

    Thanks, Maja! Great review as always.

  19. I have this and it's seriously been sitting on my shelf for the majority of the year. I should really pick it up! I've read lots of mixed reviews, but I think most of them are pretty positive. I'm sorry you had trouble with this one, Maja. I really hope I grow to like Naji when I pick this one up, though immature boys are definitely not my thing. Wonderful review, Maja! :)

  20. I have this in my TBR pile and as I won it in a giveaway, I wasn't thinking of getting to it any time soon. I may just put it off for a little while more.

    It's a shame you weren't drawn to the characters as much but it's interesting to hear that it's not a formulaic book. I'm also not so eager to read it dur to the lack of climax and resolution.

    Wonderful review, Maja <3

  21. I have been planning on reading The Assassin's Curse because it's been far too long since such I read a book involving magic and never about pirates. But this is the first time I'm reading a review of the book.

    However, knowing why you didn't like it and still thought that it was worth your time makes your review very insightful. I will give the book a read soon. Great review, Maja!

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

  22. Hmm. I have never hear of this one, but it sounds interesting. Not sure about some of the characters as described though.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  23. I was one of the people who loved this book, but I can definitely understand your criticisms and where you're coming from. For me, I think it was more of a matter of this being the right book to read at the right time; maybe I wouldn't have liked it as much if I had read it at a less opportune time. The sort of lacking plot, for instance, definitely would have bothered me more I think, but for some reason, it didn't bother me. I just had fun with this one!! Great review, Maja - I loved reading your alternate viewpoint on this one!!

  24. I haven't read this, but I have read a ton of positive reviews. It's nice to get the other side as well. And it's something that even with your issues you still enjoyed this story. Men at any age can act like a 12yr old, unfortunately, *sigh* so this doesn't immediately put me off. As long as they don't act like it all the time. Excellent review Maja. :)

  25. I really liked this, and I didn't mind Naji. I actually enjoyed how oblivious he was to Ananna. So often the hero is just irresistibly attracted to the heroine that I'm enjoying watching her pine a bit.

  26. I wasn't sure if pirates and assassins were for me but I hear so many good things I think I'll try it out sometime. I did also hear the romance is really subtle and lacking and that disappoints me because I prefer a great big in your face romance. LOL

  27. I admit to enjoying this book more than you did, most likely because I connected with the characters more. On the contrary though, I loathed the dialect! I cringed everytime I came across swear words and slang, it was just so unusual in a traditional fantasy novel. Anyhow, splendid review as always Maja!

  28. I don't mind you not like Naji. More for me! What really made me melt about Naji is how he respected Ananna as an equal and acknowledged that she could take care of herself. That's such a rare quality in YA. Also sulking doesn't bother me (probably because I'm the bounce around cheerful type & its a good balance).

  29. Ha ha, I wasn't a fan of Naji either and found the plot underdeveloped as well. But, I'll be reading the sequel because I found the story interesting enough that I want to know how they'll break Naji's curse.

  30. I do think I understand where you're coming from with your thoughts on Naji. It took me a while to warm up to him. But then certain people started comparing him to Zuko from Avatar and that helped me better appreciate him.

    Ananna's narration actually drove me a little crazy at first, but I appreciate it after I got into the book. I feel like the same thing will happen when I finally get around to reading Blood Red Road. I know what you mean in your review - sometimes it's easier to point out a few things that could have been even better in a book, even if you really enjoyed the book. I did think that The Assassin's Curse was a very good book and I look forward to reading it's conclusion.

  31. Honest reviews are always the most helpful. I've selected loads of novels based off of three star reviews as opposed to five star just get more of a sense of what's what if you know what I mean. Thanks for the review!

  32. I understand where you're coming from about Naji! I really enjoyed the characters though. Thank you for the different view on this book!


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