Series: The Hanna Duology #1
Published by: Strange Chemistry
ISBN 13: 9781908844736
Published: May 2014
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
‘The Wizard’s Promise’ by Cassandra Rose Clarke is the first book in the Hanna Duology, a new series by the author of The Assassin’s Curse series, and the excellent stand-alone The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, one of my favourite books of 2013.
This novel starts slowly, introducing us to Hanna Euli and the vivid world she lives in, where her mother is a pirate and yet Hanna is simply an apprentice to a fisherman, with dreams of being a witch. Hanna isn’t afraid to speak her mind despite her apprenticeship status, and with slight abilities in magic she goes about her daily life respectfully enough. One night, when out on a boat with her mentor Kalur, they encounter rough seas and are blown off course – though it seems from a storm aided by magic, going by how far off course they are somehow blown.
From there, Hanna realises Kalur, mentor or not, can’t be relied upon and Hanna finds herself thrown into the kind of adventure she’s only heard of from her mother – the kind she always thought she wanted, but may now be having second thoughts…
This novel is quite slow for the first third or so, then it really takes off into something quite fantastic and intriguing. The world builds up around the story and we find Hanna to be a dependable main character, with an interesting array of background characters who are so unique it’s hard to guess what they could do next. Cultures within this novel are an important factor as we see them collide and clash, feeling realistic and interesting throughout. They make the novel feel real and in-depth beyond all else within the novel.
Admittedly the ending wasn’t brilliant, but it was enough to make me eager for the second novel. Overall it felt short, to the point where I almost wonder why this duology wasn’t released in one epic standalone novel – I seem to think it may have worked better this way, as it would have made the reader a bit more forgiving about the slow first third.
This was still an enjoyable read overall, despite the issues listed above. It’s a hard ask to get the reader to continue on through the slow start (I seem to notice that novels are usually fairly established by the first 10%), but I can add my voice to the crowd that say the novel is honestly worth persevering with. It’s unique and told with an edgy, interesting voice to the characters and prose overall, and – thank goodness – there’s no love triangle, hallelujah! There needs to be more novels like this.