Magic of Blood and Sea – Cassandra Rose Clarke

About the Book

A pirate princess and a cursed assassin find their fates intertwined in this gorgeous and thrilling adventure.

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an ally pirate clan. She wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to a handsome and clueless man. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns that her fiancé’s clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when this assassin, Naji, finally finds 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 to complete three impossible tasks that will cure the curse.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must face the repercussions of betraying her engagement that set her off on her adventures. Together, the two must break the curse, escape their enemies, and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

544 pages (paperback)
Published on February 7, 2017
Published by Saga Press
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I read this book a few months ago. I mostly read it so far before it’s publication because I absolutely love Cassandra Rose Clarke’s writing to such an extent that I just can’t put her books off if I have access to them.

Magic of Blood and Sea was different than anything else I’ve read by Clarke. It’s kind of a mix of epic fantasy, high adventure, with a dash of fairytales thrown in for good measure.

Magic of Blood and Sea is really two novellas in one. The first half details mostly Ananna’s plight. We are introduced to Ananna when she is fleeing a marriage her parents have arranged for her – with dramatic consequences that haunt her throughout the novel. Instantly I was in love with this character, her headstrong nature and her obvious naiveté regarding some aspects of life, while she’s incredibly knowledgeable with others.

A little further we are introduced to Naji, an assassin. He seemed a bit more mysterious and world wise than Ananna, though in truth they really balanced each other out well. Ananna was light to Naji’s dark. It takes some time for the two of them to really grow and get a rapport together, but their relationship is slow forming, and it feels natural in that respect.

Naji, however, never really stopped being his shadowy, mysterious self, and Ananna never really stops being her effervescent self. In this respect they never really lost that kernel of who they were, regardless of the adventures they end up being thrust into for this reason or that reason. I really loved how, regardless of situation or relationship, Clarke managed to make both characters grow and develop without ever losing sight of who those characters were in the first place. And I need to give her credit for the ending, which also shows two characters remaining true to who they are, and felt perfect for the book itself.

The plot is quick moving, and it has to be since Ananna is basically on the move from the first page. Naji’s curse took some time for me to fully understand, and I never did get a good grasp of his magic (though, to be honest, that didn’t really bother me in the slightest since Naji’s mysterious nature is part of who he is). Both characters have their own enemies, and their alliance is obviously uncomfortable, which makes things even more interesting and strained. They also never really get to rest between adventures. The consequences of Ananna running from her marriage, to Naji’s curse dog them through the book, and drive them into some really interesting situations where they meet some truly fascinating characters. When I say there is never a dull moment, there literally never is a dull moment in this book.

If I did have some niggling complaints, I would say that perhaps at some points the plot seemed to drag on a little too long, and I also think the relationship between Ananna and Naji felt a little too slow in developing, and then almost forced a little toward the end. To be honest, I think some of that forced feeling is due to how mysterious Naji is, that suddenly seeing a warm side of him came as a bit of a surprise to me.

The world is really delightful. I’ve said it on this blog a few times in the past, but I really don’t enjoy books that take place on boats. I don’t know why, but I just don’t. I actually actively try to avoid them. Boats do not interest me. However, I got past that really fast with Magic of Blood and Sea. Ananna is just too bright of a character to not want to follow, boat or not, and her tie to the sea and her absolute love of being a pirate is really infectious. It doesn’t really end with that, though. There are interesting sea creatures and adventures, battles and the like. There is a magical island that they get stranded on (which was absolutely fantastic, and where a lot of the personal development happens), they make it to a kingdom, and various pirate havens. Ananna has a knack for making friends in the most unlikely of places, and Naji does well at balancing her with a little of his incredible self-restraint.

Magic of Blood and Sea was a delightful book and I absolutely tore through it in record time. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a fantastic study of how well crafted, deep characters can mix well, and even improve, a plot. I think a lot of times we poo-poo adventure filled novels in speculative fiction. Cassandra Rose Clarke proves why that’s not really a wise course of action. This book is a fast paced, wham-bam adventure that doesn’t stop until the book is over. It’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while. All of that adventure is coupled with some really dynamic characters and a world that is… well, unique and memorable are probably the only words that I can use to describe it.

Basically, I loved it.

 

4/5 stars

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