Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.
I´d like to start this review with my all-time favorite quote from this book:
“”Well, look who´s on my front porch,” he said, speaking Empire with this odd hissing accent. “A murderer and a cross-dressing pirate.””
Okay, now imagine a very sassy old man saying those words. And add some gorgeous scenery, explosive magic, a hint of romance, some really proud pirates and assassins, and a whole lot of mystery and sand. There you go. Now you´re beginning to understand how interesting this book is.
I´ve always loved the whole “enemies-forced-to-work-together” idea, mostly because it generates stimulating dialogue and conflict, but Ananna and her assassin (*clears throat* Naji) just made me laugh to the Isles of the Sky and back.
Naji is so extremely serious, I mean, yes, he did laugh that one time, but he always seems so annoyed and tired because of Ananna, acting like she´s a big pain on his little assassin butt, but underneath all those moody glares, he´s amused by her. I think, at least (Can you please not wear that stupid desert mask, Naji?).
And then we have Ananna. She´s a pirate through and through, from her mentality to her clothes, from her speech to her tastes… and she loves it. Ananna and the sea have a special relationship. Sometimes she can come off super judgy, with lots of preconceived notions about things, which often leads to conflict (mostly with Naji). To her, the entire world works like the one she grew up in. But she´s also very tough and loyal, always doing the right thing according to her beliefs. I really enjoyed how, despite the fact she resented her parents for trying to marry her off, she still fully respected them and continuously used what they taught her in her adventures. She would always say “Think like Papa.”
Ananna and Naji´s world feels so different from what I´ve read, and I fell in love with it. I could feel the hot sun, the grating sand, and the fabric of the colorful scarves and flowy clothes; I could smell the pastries, the sea and the flowers and all those herbs; and I could perfectly imagine the desert landscape, the crowded markets, and most important of all, the people and culture. I swear I could imagine the faces of the pirates that crowded around our little dynamic duo, and the masts of their boat, and the creepy, creepy Isles of the Sky. It all felt very thoroughly researched and thought out, I applaud Cassandra Rose Clarke.
I feel like speech was a big tool into making this story come to life…Ananna is informal, blunt and honest, not giving a single flying goose about what other people think of her manners. It´s part of who she is, and it really sets her apart from all the teenage girls I´ve been reading about. Seriously, though, everyone seems to have perfect speech patterns in all the books I´ve read, perfect grammar, perfect composure. This makes Ananna more real and original. Oh, and also, she´s not afraid of screaming. She full on screams when she´s surprised or scared or near death (like a normal person), and I loved every second of it. Lately, it seems YA characters are not allowed to scream, maybe because it makes them weak, or something. It all reminds of this one scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where they´re going down this swirling, angry chocolate river in a dark tunnel, at break-neck speed, with nothing holding them down, and everyone´s quiet. I would be screaming my head off! So, yay to realistic teenage pirate.
And before I bring this review to a close, I´d just like to bring to attention this little habit of Ananna´s: “One man came barreling up to me and I stuck out my foot and tripped him. They never expect that.” Apparently this is a very useful trick during hand-to-hand combat, because she uses it a few times. I love it. I mean, she´s just like “Why, yes, let´s go into a bloody life-or-death battle and start tripping everyone.” You go, Ananna! Great job.
I feel like the ending was a bit hollow, and after all the excitement throughout the book, it left me a bit meh, BUT it promises a very interesting Book 2. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.