Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Book One of the Midnight Thief series
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.
Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.
When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.
What I Liked:
I KNEW I would love this book, I just knew it! I love epic fantasy, and this is the first one I've read in a while. I discovered this book early last year, and have been hounding Livia and Disney-Hyperion for it since. I was the first reader and review of Poison Dance, the prequel novella of this series, that features James' back-story, with Thalia. I loved the novella, and I loved this book. So much love!
Kyra, an orphan and "gutter rat", hesitantly joins the Assassins Guild. She excels at climbing anything, at making zero sounds, at not getting caught. The payout is excellent. James, the head assassin, is mysterious, deadly, but has confidence in her. The only thing is, Kyra has no idea why she is doing the jobs she's doing for the Guild. She doesn't know what the Guild is doing, but she has her suspicions. Meanwhile, on the other side, is Tristam, a Palace Knight, charged with investigating the recent raids, the mysterious Demon Riders, and the mythical Assassins Guild.
I have so many things to talk about, that I loved! Let's see if I hit them all. I loved that this book was written in dual perspectives, but NOT in first person. Both perspectives are in third person, but we get Kyra's point-of-view, and we get Tristam's point-of-view. Each character's story is very important, when they aren't interacting, and when they are. In fact, the two characters' paths do no really meet until quite some time into the story. Tristam's view of things is just important as Kyra's. Neither character had a more or less important role in this story.
I really, really liked both protagonists. Kyra is an extremely intelligent girl, brave and fearless, yet kind and selfless. She takes the Guild job partly to use the pay to help two street orphans, Idalee and Lettie. She is always looking out for Bella, The Drunken Dog's cook, and Flick, a friend she's known for ages. Kyra has a strong personality, and her character undergoes a subtle but remarkable development, throughout this story. I love it when I like a character from the beginning, and like the character even more, in the end. Especially the protagonist(s).
The same can be said for Tristam. He is also brave and strong , though his character change is much more pronounced. After his best friend Jack is killed by Demon Riders, Tristam grows a spine and thick skin. He will stop at nothing to hunt down the Demon Riders, to stop them. I really liked Tristam, from the beginning. His perspective is just as necessary as Kyra's. Usually, in a book told by two people, I'll prefer one or the other, but never both. In this book, I liked both!
The thing about fantasy stories is that they can tend to be repetitive or a little unoriginal after a while - especially the epic fantasy ones. That's why, when I get a really original one, I love it, cherish it, parade it around like nobody's business. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE BOOKS. In my opinion, this novel is very fresh and unique, in the epic fantasy world, and in literature in general. The kings and queens and kingdoms aspect isn't really in this book (though I love that aspect so much, I'm not complaining), but the story still has the same feel. Even still, the story and plot and whatnot were not what I expected, in a good way!
Blackburne's world-building is very well-done! One thing about fantasy novels is that the world-building HAS TO BE GOOD. You're creating an entirely new world from scratch; you can't just leave things for readers to figure out - you have to explicitly create and show readers your story's world. Blackburne outdid herself in the novella, and she outdid herself in this novel. There wasn't much guesswork or many holes in the world, so hats off to Blackburne!
Speaking of the novella... the novella gives the background of James, and how he came to meet and fall in love with Thalia. The novella is heartbreaking and beautiful and dark, but it is a perfect prequel novella. We get a peek at the world of the Assassins Guild, and we get a good look at James. I really liked James in Poison Dance! I felt for him, so so much.
The thing about this book is that James isn't always portrayed as a "good guy". His intentions aren't always noble or "good". The lines between good and bad aren't always clear in this book. So what does this have to do with the novella? Well, I really liked James in the novella, and despite several things in this book, I really like him still. Getting background on a potential antagonist is VERY rewarding - we get to see in the mind of James, and in this way, we see his humanity. We don't always see "villains" or antagonists as human or good or whatever. But every villain thinks he is a hero. We see this so well in this book. Not that I'm saying that James is a villain or antagonist, necessarily. You'll see what I mean when you read the book.
As for romance - ahhh, lovely, it really is lovely! At first, I thought there would be a pair. Then a love triangle. Then a love pyramid? In which three different people are in love with Kyra. But that is NOT the case in this book! There is no love triangle or pyramid or anything of the sort. I have it on good authority that Blackburne will NOT be including a love triangle in this series. And there wasn't one in this book. In fact, the romance is basically nonexistent, in this book. It's so subtle, it doesn't really appear until the very end. And I love it!
Okay, dual perspectives, plot, story, characters, character development, worldbuilding, novella, romance... I think I hit most of everything I loved? I probably forgot something, I know I didn't do this book justice. But if you've read up until this point, then you'll be able to see and understand why I love this book so much! And hey, the gorgeous, awesome cover doesn't hurt! Not that the author can control the cover, but it is very wonderful, and represents the overall feel of the story very well!
Okay, okay, I'll stop now, I promise...
What I Did Not Like:
Nothing for this section at the moment! I try to be as objective as possible and point out as many positives AND negatives that I note, but I have no negatives. Don't judge me.
Would I Recommend It:
YESSS!! I knew I would most likely love this book, because I'm a huge epic fantasy fan and all. This book encompasses the epic fantasy that I absolutely love - the "medieval" type of fantasy that always captures my heart. Like Fire or Graceling by Kristin, or Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken. I'm not saying you have to be a fantasy fan to love this book. But if you ARE a fantasy fan, add this to your must-read-ASAP list. I want no one to miss this book! Step out of your comfort zone, if you usually don't read fantasy!
5 stars. How about we make that ten stars. Or ten thousand. My most anticipated novel of 2014... is now one of my favorites. If I could recommend any one book to you so far, it would have to be TWO books, and they would be To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, and Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (this book). SO GOOD.
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Poison Dance (the prequel novella) is FREE right now! Here are links: