After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.
Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.
Yay, Ananna and Naji are back! There’s a lot to love about this one, like the manticore, who was by far my favorite character in the novel. The way she came around to being Ananna’s friend instead of wary ally was great. She had some of the most amusing lines in the entire book. I hope we see her again. BUT. This is a duology, not a trilogy, so this is the last book! That made me so sad, but everything is tied up reasonably well in this one, plus there are short stories too. Ananna is still a little immature, and she’s angry throughout this entire book, which becomes frustrating after awhile, but I think there was real character development with her. Naji is her true love, but she cannot accept that he might return her affection (even if he’s not quite in love with her at the beginning). I’m not sure if she thinks she’s ugly or what, but she is really into being pissed about her unrequited love (which isn’t even unrequited). She spends the book ignoring all the signs that Naji might love her, writing off what people say as silly or not true, and just generally being an ass to Naji. I understand the last part, but it seems like Ananna was more content to suffer than accept the truth: Naji has feelings for her too.
A lot happens in this one too. The party leaves the isle they were stranded on, Marjani returns, there’s a few sea battles and weird automaton type weapons. We meet two different kinds of royalty and everything pretty much comes full circle. With the first “impossible” task completed, Naji and Ananna have to travel all over their world to complete that last two. When we meet the queen of Jokja, I was just so happy, because the queen and Marjani are in love, and no one made a peep about it. Homosexuality is apparently a non-issue in this world, and I loved it. Reminds me of Malinda Lo’s books. Another thing I liked that involved Marjani was the open and positive way she spoke to Ananna about sex and masturbation. She basically teaches Ananna how to orgasm on her own. I loved it. It was so great, so awesome, none of this “saving myself for marriage” stuff (which I know some do, but it’s unrealistic to expect of teenagers now and it would be unrealistic in Ananna’s world). More YA novels need a sex positive message! Lastly, I enjoyed how they spoke. The word “fuck” shows up a few times, mostly yelled by Ananna, and I just always like when the dialogue is realistic. Like, I love Evie from the Paranormalcy series, but her made up swear words made me want to stab my own eyes out sometimes.
The only thing that truly bugged me was how Ananna treated Naji. In the beginning, her venom may have been warranted, but by the time they start sailing with Marjani, Ananna really should have let it go. They share blood in one scene and afterwards Ananna can read Naji’s thoughts, and she STILL just ignores the whole thing and treats Naji like crap. That wasn’t fair of her and it hurt him unnecessarily. I just wish she didn’t fight it as hard as she did. If she just listened for a second, she might be happy, but I think Ananna prefers to be angry over any other emotion. She also projects her own feelings onto Naji, accusing him of just wanting to get rid of her, when fully half the novel is devoted to Ananna wanting to get away from Naji. It’s confusing. I felt sorry for Naji and wondered what he saw in this person anyway, but I also like Ananna enough to be able to see her good qualities and realize this anger was coming from a place of hurt and self-preservation.
I really enjoyed this one, even though the book is left a little open-ended. I really like Clarke’s world of pirates and magic and talking animals, and I’d go back in a second.