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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Two days ago, I wrote a review for Livia Blackburne’s recent official YA debut, Midnight Thief. In it, I mentioned that this novella to the MIDNIGHT THIEF series, was an amazing companion to the first book. It was then that I realized I had yet to review this book and after I got an anonymous user request to review it, I decided to.
POISON DANCE is all about James. His backstory, his personality, and the conflicting elements of good and evil that readers are able to see collide over the course of MIDNIGHT THIEF. This book is definitely not my favorite novella, but it is one of the most well-written novellas I’ve ever read, because more than being entertaining or having beautiful prose or elegant structure, it completes the job of a novella very well.
There are quite a few novellas I know of that are like POISON DANCE, based around the events that happened to one of the major characters to the main story. Right off the bat, I think of the novella THE BLUE HAIRED BOY by Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal. Or Infinite Repeat by Paula Stokes, author of The Art of Lainey. I must admit that THE BLUE HAIRED BOY and INFINITE REPEAT were significantly more entertaining and well-rounded than POISON DANCE, but POISON DANCE provided a complexity of character that I can’t help but admire.
Throughout the story of MIDNIGHT THIEF, James can be perceived as nothing but a bad guy, but that’s not true. In many moment of MIDNIGHT THIEF, James’s sense of justice and morality comes through. It’s the life he lives that doesn’t allow him to show that most of the time. And in POISON DANCE, as I got into James’s inner thoughts, I was very impressed by the way he comes to truly care about other people and see things in them and notice things about life that other people don’t stop to see.
While this book didn’t really feel complete to me, that was okay, because this is a novella. In a regular novel, I wouldn’t accept that nearly as easily, but it came without too much effort for POISON DANCE. It’s more what comes through in the story, the course of events that throws James into MIDNIGHT THIEF, that I admired–if a little lacking in other ways.
I think the most important thing about a novella is being able to pair well with the series that it correlates to, and POISON DANCE does an excellent job of that, going right back to character.
If you’re interested in reading MIDNIGHT THIEF, I would really recommend that you read this book first, as I didn’t think too highly of it in my review and ended up being disappointed. However, if you enjoy this read and want to see more, I encourage reading MIDNIGHT THIEF. Overall, I had a good time with this book and I really enjoyed seeing more of James and I think that Blackburne did an amazing job with him. (If you want to read this book, it’s free on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook.) 4 stars.
pg count for the ebook: 86