Publisher Strange Chemistry
Amazon, Kindle, Audible, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound
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.
Well considering my condition lately, I'd say this book must be pretty special if I was able to read it in two days. Granted it was smallish, only about 270 pages, but the book was small, too, but really it was the story. I loved the characters and when you love the characters, for me, you love the story. You jump right in with both feet into the heart of the trouble, Ananna (hated that I could never figure out how to pronounce her name) is in the middle of being handed over to be married off in a deal between two pirate clans. She's 17 and yeah, the guy is cute, but Ananna is INDEPENDENT! She wants her own ship and this guy is not gonna let her be INDEPENDENT or even independent. So what does Ananna do? What any self respecting pirate does, she steals a camel and high tails it out of there!
Of course, that's when the real trouble starts. The Hariri clan, the clan she was supposed to marry into, is pissed off and they send an assassin after her. Some magic happens in unexpected places and all the sudden she and the assassin Naji are bound to each other. Or rather, he's bound to her. The rest of the story is their adventure to find a cure to his "curse".
Now Naji is a bit of an enigma. Sometimes you get a glimpse of the boy he must have been before he became a Jadorr'a, joined the Order. He seems good and as if he might even like Ananna. But then his mask goes back on, figuratively speaking and he's this hardened assassin who practices blood magic and who everyone but Ananna is scared of. But that doesn't mean she's immune to his mercurial moods. As soon as he drops his guard and she sees that kinder side, she warms to him. Then quick as a snake strike, he wounds her with his words again. It's painful sometimes. I hope we get to hear the story from his side in the next book. He is much more refined than Ananna, but he isn't the big hero you'd expect. He has his butt saved many times by Ananna which I loved! He never gets macho about it though and I like that about him.
And then there's Ananna, Ms. Independent. Her language is coarse. She's a pirate, born and raised on a pirate ship. She has a very little of water magic in her being mostly practical, but those are the skills that keep her and Naji alive. She can wield a sword, make a fire, catch and clean fish, find water, and build shelter. Oh and she's the best thief in the Empire! She also can talk her way in or out of just about anything. Except this curse. She is undereducated in comparison to Naji when it comes to University, but she more than compensates for it in practical matters. I love how she saves Naji over and over and takes care of him, but she never thinks the lesser of him for it. I totally love her character!
I think this is a really fantastic debut! These are some of the best characters I've seen in YA fiction this year. Completely flawed yet totally lovable. Strong, guarded, stubborn, independent. All these words could fit both characters. And then the various adventures they go on are icing on the cake. Yes, this is definitely a series. But it's not a cliffhanger ending. Still, I can't wait for the next one to come out. You definitely want to read this one!
I received an ARC of this novel from Strange Chemistry for an honest review. I received no compensations for my review. All opinions in this review are my own.
I also happen to get the work in progress cover for the final book in the series (yeah, I'm disappointed there will only be two as well.) But I get to share it with you below.
Let me know what you think, this is the wraparound cover.