Wednesday 22 January 2014

Review: Poison Dance A Novella by Livia Blackburne


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Poison Dance is the prequel novella to Livia Blackburne's debut novel Midnight Thief. I added this book to my To Read shelf on Goodreads and was contacted by the author who offered to send me the ebook in exchange for an honest review. I am incredibly grateful as I have been eagerly awaiting the release of MT which unfortunately won't be until July. I am a huge fan of anything and everything medieval, in fact, I was, for a time, a tour guide of a reconstructed medieval street in a museum! So, when I saw the Goodreads synopsis of Midnight Thief, I just had to have it. You can find my Waiting on Wednesday post here, where I have this week featured Midnight Thief.

So, before I actually go into the story and my review I would firstly like to tell you the background to the novella. It features the assassin James, who is actually the leader of the Assassin's Guild in Midnight Thief. Here is quote from Livia herself explaining why she wrote this novella:

"I originally conceived of James as a supporting character in my novel Midnight Thief, and I quickly fell in love with him. As the enigmatic leader of the Assassins Guild, James was cool, competent and intriguing. He was the type of character who invited questions. How had he come to power at such a young age? What was behind his hatred of the nobility? Had he loved before? Was he even capable of love? I wanted to tell his story, and here's the result."

While Livia would class Midnight Thief as mid-YA she explained to me that Poison Dance was closer to Upper YA and New Adult - heavier on the romance and much darker. Now the novella being classed as New Adult got me really excited because I have been looking for a story like this which is New Adult, rather than Young Adult. I love YA stories but being 23 I find that sometimes they are a tad bit too childish, there is not enough violence and definitely not enough of mature relationships. However, when I read that it was heavier on the romance I was a little bit wary as I am not a huge fan of romance in stories. So, with that in mind I went into the story a bit apprehensive, thinking that this would merely be a love story but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found instead.

This story was very short coming in at 54 pages long and so I am incredibly surprised at how much of an insight I got into the world. We are introduced to the Assassin's Guild and some of it's key members in particular the new leader, Gerred and the assassin James.The Assassin's Guild was once an incredibly successful venture, with members who had been both influential and feared, in the time of the story, however, this reputation has been destroyed and the assassin's are merely seen as thugs. The politics of this world is well developed. We are introduced to the noblemen who are known as wallhuggers due to their close proximity to the palace walls. They are clearly corrupt and untrustworthy men, who even have dealings with the assassins. Then there are the guards of the city who rule with an iron fist, The Red Shields, they kill and hurt without thought for others. The city is clearly not a place of freedom. This information has set up a great backdrop for Midnight Thief and I can't wait to find out more about this world.

What I found to be most interesting in this novella was the treatment of women. Thalia, the main female character in the story is a dancer in the Scorned Maiden. She dances for the pleasure of men. She, like all the other women at that time, is meant to be seen and not be heard. The men in the story speak of women as if they are objects to be taken and the women are only too willing to obey - "You bed her yet?" Asked Bacchus. "If you're not interested, I want a try". This makes me excited for Midnight Thief as it tells the story of a young girl Kyra who joins the assassin's guild. I love to read stories where women are empowered in a setting that suppresses them, it makes them much more impressive. I have a feeling I am going to like Kyra.

Another aspect that added to the atmosphere of this world was the dialogue. The author knew she had very little time to give a sense of the time period and setting in this short, 54 page novella, and she cleverly uses dialogue to gives us this sense of medieval times. I have often read books that were set in different time periods that used words and phrasings of the modern world. Livia completely immerses the reader in her medieval setting with dialogue such as this:

“I would retain your services.” Her tone was serious. She believed
herself earnest, at least.
He gave a low chuckle. “Many think they would. But few have the coin,
and even fewer truly have the stomach for it.”
“I have enough coin.”
“And how does a dancing lass come across so much money?” He dropped
his eyes to her shapeless dress. “Unless your trade is not purely
She flushed now, her nervousness replaced with anger. “My business is my own.
Will you take my coin or not?”

Overall, I found this was an enjoyable novella. It did take me awhile to get into the story but once I did I couldn't stop reading it. I loved the ending but it may not be to everyone's taste, however, I feel it added to the darker theme Livia was portraying. There was plenty of action in it and the romance didn't overpower the plot but added to it nicely. My only problem was the length, I wanted more so I could get a better grip of the world, but then again, wanting more of a story is hardly a bad thing.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment, I love to hear your thoughts!

Make sure to check back on your comments as I always reply :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare Delirium by Lauren Oliver The Chemical Garden by Lauren Destefano The Selection by Kiera Cass The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

Blog Template by Rockaboo Design Studio