Sunday, December 15, 2013

Short stories are awesome.  They give us in-depth insight into characters, providing anecdotal proof of why some characters are they way they are.  They entertain by creating a certain mood or focusing on a singular effect...some instance in a previous body of work (or one to follow) that might have been glossed over or ignored completely in a longer novel. 

And so I would like to highlight some short stories and novellas set in worlds I've already come to love and learn a little more about some of the secondary characters in my favorite novels.   In addition to offering up a mini review of these short works of fiction,  I'll be underscoring some of my favorite aspects.

This week I'm featuring a prequel story from Livia Blackburne's Midnight Thief series:

Title: Poison Dance
Author: Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief, book #0.5
Publisher: Lion's Quill Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2013
Source: from author for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

Poison dance is approximately 14,000 words, or 54 printed pages.

This.  This is what I was hoping for from the last couple of "fantasy" novels I've read.  Unfortunately -- or fortunately for this short story -- this novella packs more of a punch than either of the last two fantasy novels I finished, and it only comes in at a whopping 54 pages!

Okay, maybe I'm a bit biased because I do have an affinity for stories that focus on assassins.  Still not sure what that says about me, but there it is.  At any rate, there wasn't all that much assassining to be had in this book, but even so, the author captured the world of the assassins -- the betrayal, the mutiny, the upheaval --  in a way that almost glorified the role James played in the Assassin's Guild.

In her pitch to me, the author stated that "I'd classify it more as upper YA or New Adult, while Midnight Thief is mid YA", but honestly, I felt no need to make the distinction.  I don't want to compare it to Throne of Glass based on the content because even though assassins are pertinent to the storyline in each book, the actual premise is very different in each story.  However, based on maturity level, I'd say this prequel story is comparable.  Which means the author's full-length novel will be perfect for everyone!  Yay!

Basically, in a few short chapters, the author managed to engage my fantasy-side and keep me glued to the pages, wondering how this story will play into Midnight Thief and Kyra's story when that full-length novel is released next year. I'm looking forward to that book even more now, and I'm so glad I had a chance to try out the author's writing with this prequel story.

If you, too, are curious about Midnight Thief and the events that lead up to it, you can check out Poison Dance for a mere $0.99, but the sale ends today, so be quick about it!

GIF it to me straight:
Ryan and I both approve...assassins are my weakness!

About the author:

I was a neuroscience graduate student at MIT, conducting research on the neural correlates of reading, where I took the analytical approach I used for my experiments and applied it towards the process of writing and publishing. After earning my doctorate, I've switched to full time writing. My debut YA fantasy novel MIDNIGHT THIEF will be coming out with Disney-Hyperion in 2014. The goal of this blog remains the same though: study pieces of writing, break it down into component pieces, and try to see what makes it work.

Find Livia:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. I read this and really liked it as well. Definitely excited about Midnight Thief! I should get my rear in gear and read the Throne of Glass series, everyone really seems to like them.

  2. I read/reviewed/blogged this one too! I was hugely impressed at how good it was in just 54 pages. My I was really sad at the end, and it DEFINITELY left me wanting to read the real book. But, I do think, I'd rather have read Midnight Thief first, to get some background. All the same. Awesome little thing.

  3. I agree that assassin stories tend to be pretty interesting. I enjoy reading them as well! And I'm glad to hear that your experience reading this prequel novella was so positive. I also received a review copy from the author, although I haven't had the chance to read it yet myself. I'm definitely looking forward to spending some time with it now, as it's also felt like a while since I've really been sucked into a great fantasy.


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