Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publication: Strange Chemistry (October 2, 2012)
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this new fantasy series ... until I got to the cliffhanger ending. Be warned! You will definitely need the sequel to this book.
Ananna is the daughter of pirates. She has a remarkably flexible moral code. She often follows her Papa's advice concerning making promises and going back on them later, stealing and telling lies. She is also rather impetuous. After meeting the young man her parents have chosen for her to marry and deciding she didn't like him because he was too beautiful, she runs away. She has no plan or destination but she knows that he isn't the right one for her.
She doesn't really believe that his family will send an assassin after her until one is sent. But, instead being killed, she manages to save the assassin's life. Unfortunately this triggers a curse that requires the assassin to protect her and doesn't allow him to get too far away from her. While she has a flexible moral code, Ananna is still honorable in her own way. She doesn't want to hurt Naji and, besides, she is attracted to him. Naji convinces her to go with him across the desert to meet with someone who might be able to break the curse. Besides the dangers of desert travel, Naji is also being hunted by magical creatures of the Otherworld.
Disappointment follows when the attractive water witch they go to see has no solution but to send them on to visit the Wizard Eirnin in the North. But the north is very near the Isles of the Sky which everyone avoids for fear of uncontrollable magic.
I liked the relationship between Ananna and Naji but I would have liked to have some input from Naji's point of view. We learn how Ananna feels about him but we don't know how he feels about her.
The story has lots of adventure and battle with both the elements and magical creatures. The world building is well-done and the characters well-rounded. I think middle grade and high school fantasy lovers will enjoy this story and, like me, will be clamoring for book 2 - The Pirate's Wish (2013).
"Did you save my life?" he asked.I received this eARC from Strange Chemistry via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy
"Maybe." I figured in a situation like this, ambivalence is always best.
"Why did you do that?"
I looked at the dead snake and back up at his scarred face. "Seemed like a good idea at the time."