ARC Review: To Kill a Curse by Jennifer Jenkins

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Genre: YA Fantasy | Adventure | Pirates
My Rating: 3.5 stars!
Release Date: October 24th, 2019
Source: Rockstar Book Tours – thank you!
Description: Would you touch the one you loved, even if it might kill them? Antonio, a merchant sailor, has no idea how dangerous Fina Perona is when he rescues her from drowning in the middle of the Lingering Sea. His ship is headed to the home Fina just abandoned, carrying desperately needed payment for her father’s prized wine stores. Pirates attack, and as Antonio and Fina escape the clutches of slavery, she steals back her family’s small fortune from the pirate captain’s quarters. Fina doesn’t need Antonio’s protection, she’s more dangerous than he could ever be, but she needs his experience as a navigator and agrees to give him a cut of the payment in exchange for his help. Returning the money is the only way Fina knows how to atone for inadvertently killing her own brother, but what she doesn’t realize is, before Antonio was a sailor, he was a thief. While threats of curses, witches, bandits, pirates, and traitors are all very real, Fina and Antonio are the most dangerous players in this story of true love and betrayal. Will they become each other’s demise or salvation as they set out to find redemption and to kill a curse?

DisclaimerI received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it does not influence my opinion of the book nor the contents of this review in any way.

This book follows Serafina, or Fina, as she attempts to run away from home. I say “attempts,” because she doesn’t get far before her little boat capsized during a storm and she was fished out of the water by Antonio, and taken aboard the ship he works on and inadvertently takes her under his wing for protection. Which was good, because she may have been much more dangerous than he was, but she had zero clue of life outside her small village. 

I’m not going to lie, I went into this one with a little bit of Shatter Me expectations. I mean, it’s the same thing… in theory. Whereas Juliette’s skin killed anyone who touched her, Fina had a cursed scar, that made something bad befall anyone who touched her skin-to-skin. It wasn’t always death, but it was always something unfortunate. They could break their leg, lose their life savings or their job, etc. Living in a small town as she did, she was treated as an outcast, someone to be watched and scorned

It was kind of like a Daughter of the Pirate King and Shatter Me cross-over, with it’s own little spin on it and more simplistic writing. It may not have been intricate or particularly amazing, but the writing in this one really fit the story. It had a relaxing, distant cadence to it that actually worked pretty well for it. The author tried to build a few layers of secrets in the beginning, but I’m not sure it paid off like she wanted it to, and I actually kind of … preferred it that way? The simple approach matched the simple girl it described, and made this a really easy, quick, enjoyable read. 


Everyone is a pirate. Fina most of all.
She steals what is not hers; my thoughts, my concern, even, at times, my adoration.
I follow her and she pushes me away.


But Fina was no badass, sarcastic heroine. She was just a girl, with a terrible curse, and an inability to sell a lie. She was determined, wild, loyal and willful, but she was also raised in a small town as the only girl in her family. Typically, she learned cooking and chores of the like, and she knew nothing of sailing or any real survival skills, and never learned to hide her heart that she leaves on her sleeve

This is where Antonio, or Tony, comes in. He was no teasing, flirtatious hero that I’ve come to expect with YA adventure books. As Fina says in the book, he was considerate, but not friendly. Logical and a bit abrupt, but still compassionate. Reliable and loyal, but not looking for credit or attention. And he tries to hide it – but he has a strong moral compass, especially for a pessimistic, thieving pirate. 

They were kind of fun to watch, with Fina antagonizing him and Tony trying to resist and just be the stoic protector. I should also mention, He is too practical to believe in her curse, and doesn’t believe it, thinking that she puts all guilt on herself for something that she didn’t cause – her father’s crops dying year after year, and her brother dying after kissing her cheek. He frequently scoffed when she described what she did to gain her curse (picked flowers in a black witch’s yard) and honestly had me questioning whether it was going to be real or not in the end. 


He sighed and let his hand fall. “It’s not fair for such a small person to have to take on all of the problems around her.” He bent lower to meet her at eye level. “This guilt you feel, it doesn’t belong to you.” 


Tony might have been mighty cool, but the romance wasn’t very pervasive, either. While it was a main plot line, of course, it frequently took a backseat, and so the reader got to see the attraction build and build in them as they gallivant all over the world (it seemed), running from an enemy and towards their goal.

While there were certainly little things this one that made me raise my brow, overall, I can’t complain. Was the ending a bit too convenient? yeah. Did Fina’s forgiveness come a bit too easily? yeah. But it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book and I kind of enjoyed the tightly wrapped package this book presented. Except for the fact that we never hear Tony’s mom’s side of the story! That was rather rude, I thought. 

I picked this book up when did, because it was at a particularly busy time in my life with midterms and general blogging mayhem (definitely signed up for too much this month 🙈), but I thought it sounded like an enjoyable, simple read that would not get me too invested that I couldn’t stop and be productive, but still be “into” the story, which is exactly what it was. Please don’t mistake this for a pulse-pounding, edge of your seat masterpiece, because it’s not that. But it was entertaining, at times amusing, and rather delightful. 

Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours, of course, for the work you do 😄

Other reads you may enjoy, featuring female pirates … 

   

What are some pirate books or sea-adventures you recommend? What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! 


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