Short Story Friday: “Poison Dance” by Livia Blackburne

18369168“Poison Dance”Livia Blackburne
Published: September 12, 2013 by Lion’s Quill Press
Series: Midnight Thief 0.5
Source: From Author for Review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Link: Amazon

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.

…I know it’s not Friday.  For some of you it’s even Sunday!  Just pretend you’re a Time Lord and the discrepancy shouldn’t bother you, right?  Right??

First of all, I would like to thank Livia Blackburne for giving me a chance to read this novella and get a taste of the excitement to come in Midnight Thief next summer.  If your interest has been perked by reading that book’s synopsis, I definitely recommend diving into the prequel “Poison Dance” so you can get a taste of the world she has created.

An interesting world it is too, for certain.  We’ve got traveling caravans, illegal substances being smuggled into the city due to a corrupt economic system, a city guard to fear called the Red Shields, and most notably nobles so fittingly called “wallhuggers” as they live close to the Palace wall.  The Assassin’s Guild is shown to be a shadow of its former glory, with funds tight, infighting rampant, and respect (or perhaps fear) from the general public dwindling.  Enough to keep the story from falling too deeply into the folds of stereotypical medieval type setting used in stories like this, I think.  Though we get such a limited time with this world, the scaffolding for city politics and workings is already strong, which probably caught my attention the most.    I’m a sucker for well-written politics and social problems.

James is to be one of the more central characters to the plot of Midnight Thief, our badass assassin who agrees to teach Thalia the best way to kill a certain nobleman.  He’s cool and edgy without being annoyingly so, a badass I can get behind.  Hell, in general our two main leads here are strong and well developed, with a connection that slowly grows over time in a realistic fashion.  It was nice to see the beginnings of romance blossom without having to suspend disbelief due to shoddily written insta-love.

DID YOU HEAR THAT GUYS?  NO INSTA-LOVE.  ACTUALLY REALISTIC THINGS.  Is nice, you know.

Unfortunately getting deeper into the plot than that would give too many spoilers, so I apologize.  Though I found several points kind of predictable, it was still definitely entertaining.  And the way the ending is written, while maybe not as satisfying for some people, befit the atmosphere of an assassin story.

By the way, favorite quote of the whole novella:

Risk is everywhere.  Only the nobles have the luxury of a long easy life.  Justice, vengeance, the ability to carve out your own fate instead of being herded like an animal.  Sometimes it’s worth dying for.”

Can Midnight Thief be released yet?  I’m going to be incredibly impatient for about half a year.  Forgive any whining as I try and wait.

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