Review: The Wizard’s Promise (The Hanna Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

24 April, 2014 Reviews 4 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Wizard’s Promise (The Hanna Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose ClarkeThe Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Hanna Duology #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on May 6th, 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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three-half-stars

All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.

As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

I feel like I’m becoming some sort of an expert on Cassandra Rose Clarke’s work. I seem to have read all the novels she has put out so far entirely without meaning to. I can’t help that they all have such intriguing premises, right? But that’s not why we’re here.

We, well I, am here to talk about The Wizard’s Promise which is set in the same world as her previous duology, The Assassin’s Curse, was set. In fact, the protagonist of this book has the same name as the protagonist of the other duology, some kind of homage I think as this Hanna (a diminutive, normal people form of Ananna)’s mother was a crew member on dread pirate Ananna’s ship.

Anyway, you must have read the synopsis and already know that Hanna has all these aspirations of being a witch, a badass magic user, but is, instead, stuck working on a fishing boat with the worst boss ever. She’s a fisherman’s apprentice and has to spend days out on the sea, um, fishing. Because that’s what people do out there. Fish. Only Hanna has these powers that let her control the wind which apparently is very important on fishing boats.

Until there’s a storm and the boss goes from just being bad to being the devil, The Devil Wears Prada style, only without the style. He takes the boat, while Hanna is sleeping, to some island very far from their own island and engages the services of a powerful witch who sets off on another voyage, ostensibly back to their island, but not really. Wow, that was a confusing sentence but bear with me. Hanna keeps asking this boss what the heck is going on, where they’re going and what’s up with him and the witch and the boss keeps on fobbing her off, telling her nothing. Her frustration with him, her circumstances and her helplessness continues rising and is so potent that I, too, wanted to reach in and smack the boss until he told us all what was going on.

To add to the frustration of not knowing which way the wind is blowing, Hanna starts seeing a Beautiful Boy (because Boys have to be Beautiful) swimming in the sea (which is most certainly below freezing level as there are icebergs around). She tries to talk to her boss and the witch woman about him but they make like they can’t hear her. They simply cannot comprehend his existence.

The world building is done very well. Clarke evokes the ennui of small island life well and I should know all about it since I spent the first 17 years of my life on one. Her characters are complex and interesting, individuated enough to become separate people instead of just a crowd. Hanna is…well. I don’t know if I quite like her.

She screams, shrieks, shouts a lot. If you are like me and pay a lot of attention to dialogue tags, you will notice that Hanna is screaming a lot, shouting if she is not screaming and shrieking occasionally for variety. And that was a bit of a turn off because I could just imagine her as this excitable, loud, person who should come with warnings: “Causes headaches.” You know? No? Okay.

I understood why she was frustrated hence the shoutiness but I think paring it down would have worked favourably where her character is concerned.

What I really liked about this book (and I liked the same thing about the other  duology) is Clarke’s experimentation with traditional and normative gender expression, especially in her portrayal of the love interest, also known as Beautiful Boy. I love that he is timorous, shy and fearful. These qualities in no way detract from his character, rather, they make him more fascinating and add a texture to the story that sets it apart from other books in the same vein.

The book is a quest narrative with some detours along the way. The island on which Hanna finally asserts herself is beautifully constructed and the friends she makes are fun but surprisingly nice. The denouement is a bit tragic but honestly, it will appeal to those of you who have a thing for folk tales because that’s what the book felt like.

I liked the book and I will most certainly be checking out the second one. Hanna isn’t the most fun protagonist ever but the other characters more than make up for her shrill nature. Besides, Beautiful Boy is intriguing. Check it out.

Nafiza
Nafiza is a misplaced Pacific Islander who loves sunshine, pineapple and flowers. Also, books. She loves books enough that she is working to make that passion into a profession. She is a candidate for a Masters of Arts in Children's Literature and is currently working on a thesis which might be driving her crazy...crazier. She has also perfected the art of speaking about herself in third person.

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