Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Poison Dance - Livia Blackburne

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief 0.1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on September 24, 2013
Published by Lion's Quill Press
Pages: 86
Read From: 1.18.14 - 1.18.14

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Not a huge fan of the cover, simply because we have two character impersonators. Love the dagger, though, and it would have caught my attention on a regular shelf, even with the character impersonators.

Characters: I really liked Thalia. She was a tough girl without having an Attitude; totally believable for the era this world takes after. Yeah, she sleeps with her target in order to get close to him - I usually hold that sort of thing against a character because I'm a huge stickler for honor and decency, et cetera. But I did feel bad for her, even if I didn't condone what she was doing. She was a tortured character; flawed. It's hard to create likable flawed characters, but this Author did. I also rather liked James. For an assassin, he was a decent person. He did his job because it was a job, and he looked after Thalia. All of the characters were great, the secondary ones included. It's amazing how well I got to know them in such a short amount of time.

The Romance: The Author warned me that the romance was fairly heavy in this novella, but quite honestly, I didn't think it was (I still appreciate the warning, since I'm not generally a fan of romance). Yes, it was sort of rushed - I mean, this is a novella, not even 100 pages long. Somehow, though, it didn't feel as rushed as a lot of romances in some 300+ page novels I've read. James really did seem to care about Thalia very deeply. Something of the circumstances made their quick attachment understandable, and the novella actually spans several months.

Plot: James joined the Assassins Guild in its golden days, but lately those days have fallen into hardly more than legend. The assassins are nothing more than glorified thugs, and with the passing of the former Assassins Guild master, a power struggle has begun among its ranks. This is the backdrop of Poison Dance. The synopsis above does a very good job of summing everything up, so I'm not going to try too much harder. This 58-page novella offers a rather brief glimpse into the world that this Author's soon-to-be-released novel Midnight Thief takes place in (Poison Dance is a prequel novella, offering the backstory of who is a minor-ish character in Midnight Thief, James). And it is a brief glimpse that made me fall absolutely in love with the world. I can tell that there is so much more to it, and that it's filled with mystery and intrigue and exotic cultures and adventure - I really cannot wait for Midnight Thief. There are two small plots going on in this novella, both of which connect and are surprisingly engaging (I say surprising, because this is such a short story). There is the power struggle within the Assassins Guild, and then Thalia's quest for revenge on the man who is responsible for her sister's death. Three topics - power struggles, murder, and revenge - of which I am extremely fond. So how could I not enjoy this novella?

Believability: Not applicable, though I will address the believability of Thalia being taught fighting skills. In short: it's realistic. James is a highly skilled assassin and teaches her the most basic and most likely to succeed methods that will work for her, so there's no macho-chick stuff going on.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I really liked it. A simple enough style, it still managed to capture the beauty of the world. And the dialogue did a lot in setting the world's atmosphere.

Content: None, really. While it is mentioned (without details) that Thalia is sleeping with her intended target, and James' friends are definite womanizers (well, one of them, at least), there are no sexual details. Thalia and James share one rather intense kiss, but James doesn't bed her (yay, James!).

Conclusion: Rather abrupt, but what can one expect from a novella? I really liked Poison Dance. It's a great setup for Midnight Thief, and I look forward to meeting James again in that book, when he's older. I was a little worried at first, after the Author's warning that Poison Dance was heavier on the romance and was more older teen/New Adult than mid-teen like Midnight Thief will be. I am going to give this Author a very big compliment: it is an insult to call this novella New Adult, because it isn't. For the record, I am not a fan of New Adult at all; I don't even consider it literature (if you do, that's fine. This is my opinion). So in short, I am saying that it is an insult to call this New Adult because this is literature. And I'm very excited to read Midnight Thief!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of stories that take place in medieval-like worlds and Hilari Bell's Knight & Rogue series!

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