Pirates, curses, magic, and more made The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark one of my favorite reads of 2012. The Assassin’s Curse is a book than can appeal to many readers from middle grades and up. It really didn’t feel like a kid or young adult book at all – there was plenty of action and adventure to keep the reader riveted to the pages. The Assassin’s Curse is told from the point of view of Ananna of Tanarau, the daughter of pirates from the Pirate Federation. She is to be wed in an arranged marriage to Tarrin of the Harari clan, a most favorable match for both families.“There are three ways of bettering yourself in the Pirate Federation, mama told me once: murder, mutiny and marriage.” Ananna has plans of her own: She wants to be a captain of her very own pirate ship. There’s no room for marriage in those plans, so she steals a camel (yes – a camel!) and runs away, bring the wrath of the Hariri clan upon her. Soon she is tracked by the stealthy Assassin Naji and her life is in grave danger. There are so many things to love about this book. I enjoyed the setting; it felt so exotic. The story takes place in some Middle Eastern or North African country. It is hot and dry. There are markets and mysterious shopkeepers. People believe in magic. Ananna is one of my favorite female characters this year. She is able to read (a rarity in this world), yet she lacks formal education. Most of her training came from her life at sea with her pirate parents. As a result, Ananna was extremely resourceful, smart, and trained in self-defense; her skill sets included escape, evasion, and the disposal of poisonous snakes. Naji the Assassin was another interesting character. In this world, people are chosen to become assassins. These assassins are stealthy (almost Ninja-like) and use blood magic, a very potent kind of magic. I had to feel a little sorry for Naji. I’m not so sure that he knew what he was getting into when he was assigned to kill Ananna. The Assassin’s Curse is a wonderful story about two young people as they journey to find a cure for Naji’s curse. The journey takes the pair to various locations and through many adventures on the high seas and on a secluded island. This could be a love story, but the focus is really on the action and adventure. Besides, Naji was a little oblivious on that front. The Assassin’s Curse is recommended for middle aged readers and higher. Both adults and younger readers will enjoy this story. Read it out loud to your child, or buy it as a Christmas gift. It’s a lot of fun. Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot for a review copy of this book.Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.