One of the reasons I wanted to read this book so badly is because it has many qualities that make it highly reminiscent of a fairy-tale. I'm kind of an enthusiast for these types of stories. There are pirates, battles at sea, blood-thirsty manticores, an obscure wizard on a haunted island, and a curse that can only be broken upon the completion of three "impossible" tasks, one of which involves true-love's kiss. All of the right elements exist, yet the story still fell flat.
In my opinion, The Assassin's Curse and The Pirate's Wish should have been one book. It would have been a large book, but at least it would have been a complete story instead of two incomplete fragments. There were certain subplots that could have been eliminated to accomplish this, such as Marjani's romance. I like Marjani's character and respect the author's choice to diversify Ananna's worldview of what constitutes romance and love, but Marjani's storyline took some of the focus away from Ananna and Naji's relationship. Ananna's feelings about Naji are clear throughout the series, but we never see the point in which Naji's feelings change and he falls in love with her. All the reader knows is how annoyed he is with Ananna because she constantly puts herself in danger and gives him headaches. On this point, I feel slightly cheated.
In addition to the romance, I was caught off guard by how quickly one of the impossible tasks was resolved. I thought it happened too soon. There needed to be a greater build-up to that moment than what was afforded to it. There's a good reason why moments like these do not happen until the end of most books. I would also argue that all of the "impossible tasks" were resolved too easily. In the final Harry Potter book, for example, there is a gradual build-up of tension as the main characters search for the horcruxes. Even when a horcrux is found, the characters struggle for many chapters to find a way to destroy it. In this book, there is very little tension as the characters embark on their journey to break the assassin's curse. Each of the impossible tasks are solved within a span of a few chapters, and the rest of the book involves events completely unrelated to Naji and Ananna's quest.
All in all, this is an okay series. There are things I loved about it and things I did not. The conclusion was anti-climatic, which is disappointing. However, I love all of the characters and would read another book set in this world if the author ever decides to write one.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for allowing me to read an advance readers copy of this book.