Novella Review: Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
Series: Prequel to Midnight Thief
Publisher: Lion’s Quill Press
Date of Publication: September 12, 2013
When I first saw the intriguing description for the upcoming book Midnight Thief, I just knew I had to check it out. But with a release date of summer 2014, it was going to be quite the wait. So it was a pleasant surprise when I was contacted by the author and asked if I would like to read and review the book’s prequel novella, Poison Dance. Needless to say, I eagerly accepted; I hadn’t even known there was a prequel, and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to catch an early glimpse of the world and get a taste of the writing style.
Now that I’ve read it, I’m just as excited if not more for the first book of the series. Livia Blackburne first described Poison Dance to me as “darker, and heavier on the romance” than Midnight Thief, and probably leans more towards adult fantasy than young adult. She’s absolutely spot on, as those are all things I picked up from this novella. It stars James, a skilled assassin who is approached one night by Thalia, a dancing girl who offers him a job to kill a powerful nobleman. And if he won’t take it, she is determined to go through with it all the same, with or without his help.
I’m typically very picky about my short stories and novellas; characters always come first in my reading, so I find the fewer pages there are in a story, the more challenging it is to make me grow attached to or form a connection with the protagonist. However, Poison Dance impressed me immediately, painting a clear picture of who James is in a very short period of time. I also found out later that he will only be a supporting character in Midnight Thief, but that just makes me think: how much more awesome will the characterization in that book be, if even someone in the supporting cast like James gets this much thought into his back story? Livia Blackburne obviously puts a lot of care and effort into her world and characters, and if what I saw in Poison Dance is any indication, I’m sure it’s going to pay off.
This novella sets the tone nicely, and gives a good general background for the world in which the series will take place. I didn’t expect too much world building, but what is there definitely piques my interest. If Poison Dance is meant to build up my enthusiasm and fuel my eagerness for Midnight Thief, then its mission was most certainly accomplished.