Novella Review: Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne.

Midnight Thief #0.5.
Published: September 24, 2013.
Published by: Lion's Quill Press (Self-published).
Source: Accepted a review request and received an e-copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Livia!

Goodreads Synopsis:
James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out—if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison.

My Review:

Poison Dance is a novella prequel to Blackburne's upcoming series beginner, Midnight Thief. It introduces us to James, an assassin who is part of a guild that once essentially ran the land but which is no longer what it used to be. Now he is simply trying to make a living without falling victim to a blade himself. The novella is a great introduction to him and to the world that Midnight Thief is set in and I am looking forward to reading that even more now than I was before. 

The story here centres around James and the struggle he faces as the guild changes but even more so it centres around his encounters with Thalia, a young woman on a mission for revenge who needs his help. This plot line gave the story a lot of its drive and is really what made it move forward. Their goals and the ups and downs to reach them were quite well paced. One of the things I enjoyed was that the stakes for both James and Thalia were made very clear and not taken lightly. I felt the weight of the implications and was impressed by how those were carried through. Blackburne did a great job at making sure these were not brushed over to make things easier for the characters and I hope that continues in the series. 

Thalia herself is a very determined young woman, willing to do anything for this act of revenge. Her conviction is admirable even if it is incredibly risky. She was pretty well developed into an interesting character in her own right. She also helped to reveal more about James that is not much shared around his fellow guild members, which was an excellent aid to making his character more clearly multi-faceted. I really appreciated the way the bond they formed helped to bring out other sides to each of them but didn't pull them away from their goals, which I would have found unrealistic having gotten to know Thalia and seen her resolve and her motivation. The side characters of Rand and Bacchus, James' guild partners, were very enjoyable to have there and sometimes I found myself wishing they got to play a bit of a larger role. For a short novella, though, I did enjoy the characterization that was developed. 

I'm definitely curious to know how James will play into Midnight Thief as well as to see how the characters that feature in it fit within the world that has been introduced here. I hope that it gets expanded on more and I hope the implications of things implied here are fleshed out but I think Poison Dance is a great prequel novella. It has its own story but still serves as a great starting point for the series to follow.

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