Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Genre: YA, high fantasy, LGBT, AWESOME
Publication Date: June 4, 2013 (Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: 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.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – an excellent end to a great duology!
Review: Okay, not to spoil anything here (since this is clearly on the cover) but this book gets extra points for incorporating one of my ultimate favorite mythical creatures that gets almost no love at ALL from YA – the manticore. For fans of “The Assassin’s Curse”, “The Pirate’s Wish” definitely doesn’t disappoint at ALL, and if anything, builds really well on everything that was so awesomely developed in “Assassin’s Curse”. You see the characters grow, more of the world, and ultimately, a slow-burn romance that finally comes to fruition. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a wonderful high-fantasy YA book this year that strays from the usual high fantasy traps of alternate-world version Europe, go for “The Pirate’s Wish”.
First: MANTICORE. I LOVED THE MANTICORE. Can I have her as a pet? No, seriously. I would totally feed her dudes. All the time. The Manticore (because oh my god, Clarke was totally trolling us with how LONG her name was!) really got us off to a good start that was originally slow, and making me question whether or not this sequel was a good idea. The manticore was one of my favorite characters, and I really hope she makes future appearances in the newly-announced spinoff books from this duology. She helps push a quibbling, quarrelling Naji and Ananna together to really start getting to work on Naji’s curse, and she’s a great plot device as one of the main cast to really help the plot (and the individual character journey arcs, including her own) advance. Good job Clarke for creating her.
Also, more brownie points because (and again, not saying who as that would be a big spoiler, but) GAY PIRATES. THE FEMALE KIND. I was SO happy this was introduced and though I was coyly warned by friend and co-Strange Chemistry author Laura Lam that there would be LGBT material in this book, I totally forgot about it until it actually happened. It isn’t rubbed in our faces, for those that fear that – but it’s actually a really beautiful and romantic (redundant, I know, but it’s the most appropriate term) romance and I hope we get a novella out of these two characters because I definitely want to know more. It was finely done, and I just want to applaud Clarke for putting some gay in her YA high fantasy because we definitely need more of that ASAP.
The world Middle East-like world we saw in book one gets expanded quite a bit in this book – everywhere from other parts of the Free Countries to the Islands of the Sky to even, the bottom of the sea. We also get a little more backstory into more of our characters (which ties into above romance), and the sensory imagery and language absolutely explodes off the page in this sequel. I didn’t think Clarke could get better, but she did, and the progress she made in this book really leaves the first behind in the dust. That’s how much she improved, and how happy I was to read it.
As to the romance between Naji and Ananna, it’s still a huge struggle all the way until the end of the book, where there’s admittedly a bit of a deus-ex-machina involved (though I won’t say how or why – but it’s explained, though somewhat weakly, towards the end), but at least it gets resolved, and it’s not insta-love. Which made me very happy. Ananna stays Ananna, fighting him (and herself) all the way until the end.
We get new characters aside from the Manticore, which will be further explored in the two new spin-off books. That was my only other small issue with this book – I wanted to know more about the nobleman, and we’re going to get his story in the spin-off books.
But otherwise? Definitely one of my favorite YA high fantasy gay pirate books of this year, “The Pirate’s Wish” is definitely one sequel you can’t miss. Seriously. I want a film out of this duology. Like yesterday. “The Pirate’s Wish” is out now from Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!