Category Archives: YA

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke: review

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

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How good is The Assassin’s Curse? It’s so good I read it in a day!

The Assassin’s Curse is an otherworld fantasy story that can hold its own with the best of the genre. The Assassin’s Curse has about it the feel of Robin Hobb – although this instalment is shorter than one of a Robin Hobb trilogy, however, I suspect that there will be four or five books in this series (if you read The Assassin’s Curse, let me know if you agree!). Since I really want to know what happens next and how Ananna and Naji deal with the challenges they’ve been given, I shall be keeping a watch on Strange Chemistry’s blog for the next in series, although since The Assassin’s Curse isn’t released until October 2012, I suspect I will have a bit of a wait!

The story begins with our heroine running away from her betrothing ceremony – and I can’t say I blame her. Thus begin her adventures and her meeting with the eponymous assassin. One of the things that I particularly liked was that  it has a strong female lead. It’s funny how fantasy books much more often have strong, independent female leads than a number of other genres. Perhaps that’s why I’ve read fantasy (and Sci-Fi) books since I was a girl. One of my favourite authors was Andre Norton; Ms Clarke is most definitely in Ms Norton’s league.

The adventures the pair of unwilling co-travellers share follow logically from one to another, although there were a few points when I felt there was a tad too much running around without purpose and without Ananna and Naji growing further. I think there may have been some over-exuberant editing or revising around the storm sequence, since the plot progression got a little mushy around there. For me, a veteran of many sail-era naval novels, the lack of detail in, and slightly inaccurate, telling of the actions on board ship (I am being intentionally vague to avoid giving any of the story away) was a minor irritation – a very minor one. I would have liked more details about the Isles of the Sky – my mental pictures there was rather sketchy.

The telling of the developing relationship between Ananna and Naji is mostly well done – and I enjoyed that it is not too much of a formulaic romance. All of the characters are well drawn and believable. I hope we meet the wizard again – he is a character with much potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Assassin’s Curse and found the standard of world building by Ms Clarke to be well executed. I would have liked a little more detail on the various peoples and their cultures & religions to be worked into the tale. Had the book been somewhat longer, this and the other additions I have mentioned could have been included. The key to adding these details is to do it as part of the story and not for the author to tell the reader directly. I suspect that the publishers, Strange Chemistry, have a standrd format in which they publish and that the books they publish are edited to this format. I hope that as time goes by, they are able to offer a range of book formats (i.e. lengths).

I really liked the cover…the script’s font and the skyline are reminiscent of ancient Arabia and get the reader in the right frame of mind for the world they are about to visit.

I think this is a debut novel for Cassandra Rose Clarke and I have great hopes for her future books.

I thank Strange Chemistry for my opportunity to read The Assassin’s Curse, as a NetGalley ARC for kindle. I also thank them for introducing me to a new (to me) author. Details of the release dates for The Assassin’s Curse can be found in my WOW post.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. 121/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 6 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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I particularly liked was that

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Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings: review

PoltergeeksPoltergeeks by Sean Cummings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.

In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.

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Poltergeeks is a YA witch-themed fantasy novel that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages. It is a fast-paced and absorbing. book I really didn’t want to put Poltergeeks down, but I had to do that in order to sleep.

Sean Cummings spins a fabulous yarn, with vivid descriptions of the phenomena and battles. The various relationships are described in realistic terms; I felt that all of them rang true and were consistent throughout the book. I’m very impressed at how well this middle-aged Blackburn Rovers fan got inside a 15-year-old girl’s head. Or should I be worried…LOL…seriously, whilst reading Poltergeeks I imagined a female author, the “voice” was that good.

There are a few really clichéd phrases uttered by the characters, along with some pretty cringeworthy phrases, but somehow they fit. Marcus is a stereotypical geek, and is bullied by a stereotypical jock, but I found I was able to ignore those formulaic bits. The witchy parts of the book are well worked out, and consistent. The story itself is internally consistent: it is set in the Calgary of the here and now – how wonderful to have a book set outside the US! There’s nothing wrong with the US, it’s just nice to be treated to a different locale – and takes the view that magic is all around us but most people don’t notice it. Witches are charged with keeping the rest of humanity safe from the “bad guys”. These two aspects – normal everyday and magical – are expertly woven together. Since Julie, our heroine, has been kept in the dark about many magical society details for most of her life, we learn about the rich details of the society with her. This kept the book interesting; I wanted to know more, I made guesses based on the clues received so far and was not bored when we got to the explanations because they happened as part of the story, either as direct speech or as part of the action rather than large passages of exposition directly from the author to the reader.

Poltergeeks absolutely races along, sometimes leaving the reader almost out of breath; there are few points where the reader thinks “Ah! I can put the book down knowing all are safe for a bit”. I admit that partway through, I worked out who – but I didn’t see the why. This looping interweaving sleight-of-hand part of the book was wonderfully woven.

In addition to discovering a new (to me) author, I’ve also discovered a new imprint: Strange Chemistry, who have some fantastic books coming out over the next six months – keep your eyes open for them: check out my WoW posts for details. Details of the release dates of Poltergeeks are also given on the website.

Thank you Sean for an excellent read. Thank you Strange Chemistry for approving me to receive a NetGalley ARC of Poltergeeks. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to subsequent books.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. 120/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 5 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
[All links in right hand sidebar]