February 6, 2014

Review: “Poison Dance” by Livia Blackburne

“Poison Dance” by Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief, #0.5
Published: 2013, Lion’s Quill Press/Self-published
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: From the author
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As most book bloggers will, I spent the final few months of 2013 looking ahead to see what books were being published in the upcoming year. One that caught my eye is the YA fantasy Midnight Thief by debut author Livia Blackburne. The blurb mentions thieves, an assassin’s guild, and political intrigue. Of course I’m going to be interested in that. So when Blackburne offered me the opportunity to review her prequel novella for the series, I didn’t hesitate to say yes and better prepare myself for what I hope will be an awesome new fantasy series.

“Poison Dance” recounts the backstory of James, a young member of his town’s Assassin’s Guild. James believes that he has found his place within the guild. Killing and harming others comes easily to him, and he has a steady job and wages and friends within the organization. But any sense of stability he had disappears abruptly once he learns that the former guildleader has been killed, leaving a more petty man to take his place; a man who doesn’t hold James and his friends in much regard. So when a pretty tavern dancer offers James the opportunity to leave the city if he helps her kill a man, he’s very tempted to take it.

I'm not going to lie: the story’s focus on assassins and thieves and their guild
reminded me a lot of the Court of the Rogue in Tamora Pierce’s
Song of the Lioness quartet. I think the politics surrounding such organizations are fascinating. I mean, why would someone willingly become involved in such a life? Blackburne writes well and I enjoyed a glimpse into this new fantasy world. That, however, is all that this novella is: a glimpse.

There’s not too much character development of James or Thalia, the tavern dancer. There’s even less development for the other characters. I’m not sure if readers have been given enough of an exploration into James’ past and his ties to the Assassin’s Guild to later grasp the transformation that James has undergone from being a lower assassin to the guildleader in Midnight Thief. But we’ll find that out soon enough with the release of Midnight Thief.

As a bit of enticement for Blackburne’s new series, however, “Poison Dance” works well. I, for one, am excited to read more about this world.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this review copy from the author, but that in no way affected my opinion.
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. I'm glad you're excited to read more of this world, Amanda! So far, the reviews I've seen for this novella have been quitee disappointing, so I'm definitely holding off on the full-length novel until I read a LOT of reviews. Still, this seems promising.

    1. I mean, my expectations for a series novella aren't sky-high, so that may have helped my enjoyment/interest level. But yes I am excited for the novel!

  2. I agree! This is a brief look into the Midnight Thief world and it was definitely enough to get me interested in more. Livia has said that Tamora Pierce's series was the biggest inspiration for these books, so I think you've definitely hit that mark well. I'm hoping we'll see a lot more depth in the full length novel.

    1. Oh really? Ha, I guess the inspiration shines through pretty well. And that makes me even more excited for this upcoming series. :)


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