Monday, 8 October 2012

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

I have something a bit special for my blog.  Today I am going to do a review of 'The Assassin's Curse' by Cassandra Rose Clarke.  And if that wasn't enough, I have an interview with her too!  Exciting stuff, no?

First thing first:

The Review

So a few months ago, Strange Chemistry were giving away some advance copies of 'The Assassin's Curse' on their twitter.  I was the lucky winner of one copy and I waited impatiently for it to arrive.  When it arrived I saw the cover and thought it looked very Arabian Nights-esque, with the swirly title about an Arabian Nights type skyline silhouette.  A theme very appropriate to the setting of the novel.

The story is about a pirate girl who runs out on an arranged marriage and meets an assassin, activates a curse on him, and then has to follow him around while they try and cure it.  There's also magic involved, which is not the ordinary kind.  It's interesting to see how it does work, and I'd like to see more of it.

While I love the book, I find it hard to say why, mostly because there's a lot to love about it.  I really like that it's written in first person and is written with Ananna's accent.  I think it adds depth to the character and the novel.  There's also a lot that isn't explained, and in a good way.  There's enough information to understand what's going on and not be confused, but there's also more that could be said.  It's a fine balance between too much information and not enough, and this is pretty much perfect.

The plot is well pace, intriguing, gripping to the end, and the ending left me wanting more, so I was thrilled when I found out there's a sequel on the way.

The Interview

(Questions in italics, answers in bold)
Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Houston, Texas, where I work as a college English instructor — when I’m not writing, of course! I have two cats, one of which I adopted after his mother brought him and his siblings into my mom’s back yard. I love to draw and paint and cook, and I love going to the movies, too. I’ll see pretty much any movie in a theater, but I don’t really like watching DVDs all that much. Weird, I know.

So, The Assassin's Curse is out in October, the sequel is out next year, and you have a sci-fi novel, The Mad Scientist's Daughter, out in January.  You must be very excited.  Just how excited are you?
I’m extremely excited! Like hands-shaking-just-won-the-lottery excited! A year ago I had only just signed with Angry Robot, and now one of my books is out in the world. It’s mind-blowing. I’m definitely looking forward to going to every book store in the city to see if they have copies of The Assassin’s Curse.

Could you tell us a bit more about Ananna and her world?  Preferably something non-spoiler-y?
Well, Ananna and her family are part of a vague governing body called the Pirate’s Confederation. It’s made up of a bunch of pirate clans, each with their own ship or collection of ships.  Ananna’s father heads up the Tanarau clan, which is why Tanarau is both Ananna’s surname and the name of her father’s ship. Ships and crew pass from father to son, so if Ananna ever wants her own ship, she would have to go outside the Confederation. Their loss!

If you had to sum up The Assassin's Curse in just one tweet (140 characters), what would you say about it?
A runaway pirate girl gets entangled with a magic-wielding assassin; adventures (and maybe romance) follow.

With a sequel already confirmed for The Assassin's Curse I have to ask, will there be more?
Well, the sequel, The Pirate’s Wish wraps up Naji and Ananna’s story. Right now there isn’t anything officially planned, but I would love to continue writing stories set in the world. I’ve already got some ideas cooking.

With one book out with Strange Chemistry and another with Angry Robot, how do you feel the YA differs from other fiction?  How do you feel it differs from the reader's perspective?  And how does it differ from the writer's perspective?
YA is interesting because it’s a target age group that gets treated like a genre.  All YA books used to be thrown together on the same shelf and that meant there was a lot more freedom to blend genres, which was one of the things I liked about it. Unfortunately, Barnes and Nobel has started dividing their YA shelves up into Adventure Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and so forth, so I’m wondering if YA will keep genre-bending, or if genre-bending will pass over to adult novels (which seems to happening somewhat and which makes me sad).

Actually, I feel like the biggest difference between YA and adult is one of voice and distance. YA tends to be a much more immediate reading experience, whereas adult fiction, even when it’s narrated by a teenager, inserts distance between the narrator and the reader.  A portion of The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, which is an adult book, does take place when the main character is a teenager, but the voice I used is a completely different sort than what I would have employed had I been writing a YA novel about the same character and situations. In adult fiction, I feel like the narrator is always speaking from a place of adulthood (again, even if she isn’t an adult), whereas in YA, a narrator speaks from a place of teenagehood.  It’s a difficult concept pin down, though, and it’s not something I’m necessarily consciously thinking about when I write.

A recent study showed that most people who buy YA books aren't 12-17 and most of those buy it for themselves.  Do find this surprising?  Is it a good thing?  And why?
I don’t find it surprising at all, since I know so many adults who read YA. Plus, think back on some of the big literary hits of the last few years: Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games were all YA. It wasn’t just kids or teenagers turning those books into bestsellers. And even Fifty Shades of Grey evolved out of Twilight, so although it’s far from being a YA novel itself, that connection is still there.  I don’t really see it as good or bad, although I do think it’s interesting and wonder about the reasons behind it. I’ve heard a theory that adult fiction tends to be too dreary and dismal, working as it often does on the flawed assumption that a downer ending makes a work more worthwhile, whereas YA typically has happier endings.  There may be something to that, there may not be. I couldn’t say! (I actually like both sorts of ending myself).

Any last words?
Thanks for having me on your blog! I hope your readers enjoy The Assassin’s Curse!

1 comment:

  1. Great interview Rachel! The Assassin's Curse is indeed my favourite read of 2012 so far! :)

    Zuleeza @ Qwerty