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Poison Dance: A Novella - Livia Blackburne

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I was first approached by this author after I added The Midnight Thief to my To-Read list on Goodreads. The summary hypnotized me from the get-go. Assassins in a medieval-like fantasy backdrop has been one of my favorite settings in fiction. There's just something really intriguing about it because I always associate this kind of set-up with politics and conspiracies, internal or outside of the assassins' grasps. A chance to have a sneak-peek into The Midnight Thief's world was something I would never pass up, so I read this one in a jiffy and immediately found myself deeply engrossed in this short story.

The first thing I noticed about the book was the writing. Even thought there weren't many description of the surroundings, the prose and the words used in the dialogue made it easy for me to immerse myself and imagine what the scenes looked like. I sincerely believe it is the dialogue that makes the atmosphere of the book, and I think it's what really made this novella stand out - the conversations between the characters just jump out and take you there with them, at that place and at that moment. I've read so many books set in a similar setting, but more often than not, they don't give a medieval vibe at all because the words used as well as the sentence structures give the place a modern feel. It's like having a book set in a European city... unless you're going to do something to set the atmosphere, it's going to feel like any other city. What's the point of putting it elsewhere if you can't establish that, right?

“And you’re an assassin,” she said.

He took his time answering. It was no secret that he was a member of the Guild, but it wasn’t something usually announced on first meeting. “I may be.”

“I would retain your services.” Her tone was serious. She believed herself earnest, at least.

He gave a low chuckle. “Many think they would. But few have the coin, and even fewer truly have the stomach for it.”

“I have enough coin.”

“And how does a dancing lass come across so much money?” He dropped his eyes to her shapeless dress. “Unless your trade is not purely dancing.”

She flushed now, her nervousness replaced with anger. “My business is my own. Will you take my coin or not?”

It raised his opinion of her, that she didn’t meekly accept his insult. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help her. “It doesn’t work that way. I take orders from my guildleader.”

“But do you have to? I could pay you well.”

“I don’t need the trouble.”

The sounds of conversation in the dining room had died down, and James heard a talesinger’s theatrical voice projecting over the crowd. He turned to leave, and she took his arm. “You have a job tomorrow, don’t you?”

That stopped him. To know that he was in the Assassins Guild was one thing, but to know what he was doing the next day . . . “What of it?”

“If there’s anything in your quarters you’d rather keep hidden, move it somewhere else before you leave. And you may want to return early.”
He studied her face for any signs of deception. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“And one more thing,” she said before he could turn away again.


“The rumors are right. Your guildleader is dead.”

I don't know about you, folks. It's a simple conversation between two people, but the magical, medieval feeling is still there, and you feel it from the words themselves. Is it just me? I don't know. But if there's one thing I am truly certain of, it's that I am so excited forThe Midnight Thief to come out come 2014, especially with prose and writing that let you into their world effortlessly.

As for the story itself, it's short, but it packs a lot of punch, so I'm not going to spoil it for you. There's a lot of characterization, a lot of intrigues, a lot of dark forces in the background, jam-packed in a measly 57 pages (yes, I was desperately wishing it was longer). The Midnight Thiefcan't come soon enough!