Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

July 1, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review, Young Adult 60 ★★★★½

Review: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMidnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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.


A little bit of stabby stab, a little bit of sneakity sneak, and a lot of snatch and grab

In Midnight Thief, Kyra is a thief, and a very good one at that. She grew up on the streets of the city Forge and managed to crawl her way out of the gutter with the help from her best friend and his aunt. She is has a soft spot for all the other street kids and tries to look out for them whenever she can. But money is tight for everyone what with the Demon Riders that are terrorizing the surrounding countryside stealing livestock and raiding trade goods caravans. So she cuts a deal with the head of the assassins guild to join up in order to keep food in her belly and a roof over her head.

Tristan is a knight, and one with honor and morals – who would have thought such a thing could exist? At least in Forge they seem to be few and far between. His plans to patrol the roads like his father and brothers before him all change when an unexpected tragedy occurs caused by the Demon Riders. Now he is out for revenge and is determined to protect the city from these ever encroaching raiders. Somewhere along the their paths will cross for better or worse.

Plans within plans, and always with the secrets.

Told from the dual perspective of Kyra and Tristam we know that these two characters are going to tango in some big way. The are both such strongly developed characters that you want to root for both of them. But they seem to be on opposing sides. Or is it that Kyra is really just on her own side and the side of those she seeks to look after. They have a great dynamic going on that you might expect would overwhelm the story like most typical YA but it doesn’t. Blackburne takes a realistic approach to the development of their interactions and the slow building trust that grows between them. Then of course there is James – what a mystery he is being the leader of the assassins guild. (I recommend reading Poison Dance the prequel that is told from his perspective.) This book is very good at making it clear that there really isn’t a black and white, good and evil but instead all those shades of grey. Everyone is the champion of their own morality and it makes you question what would you do for what you believe in?

Rub my belly like the contented kitten I am

Can you tell yet that I am happy reader with this one? I have to say I’ve been very displeased lately with the young adult books I’ve been picking up – but Midnight Thief hit many good notes and managed to stay away from many of the bad ones. Was there a dark broody mysterious possible romantic interest? – yes – but it was done well. Was there the hint that there might be more than one love interest? – yes – but again it well done and there was no hokey triangle madness like you so frequently see in almost every YA book that rolls through the door. But how can there be more than one possible romantic interest and it NOT be a triangle!? I’m just telling you romance is not the focus of this book, there is a smidge of it present but thankfully it is not key and no way dominates the plot. Moving on, I believe it is perfectly fine to use common tropes in a novel as long as they are done well and made fresh with the author’s style of storytelling and that was certainly accomplished here.  Especially since there were some unexpected things that just well I can’t tell you about but they delighted me! There is an excellent stand alone quality about this novel. I don’t know if it will be the only one but it COULD be the only one and readers would be perfectly fine because there is a complete story in Midnight Thief. No blasted pesky cliffhangers here people. If you were to read it you’d be happy because major conflicts and plot lines are all taken care of. How often does that happen in YA? Not often I tell you.

Fantasy YA rules this roost

I think some of my love for this book might have to do with the fantasy genre itself. I tend to think the YA traditional fantasy books (in a different world not our own and in no way near being contemporary) tend to be stronger. Perhaps it’s just my preferences that’s making me feel this way BUT I don’t think so. I can enjoy a really good paranormal, dystopian, apocalyptic, sci-fi or whatever the heck else YA book under the sun that falls into the Science Fiction and Fantasy sub genres get put in my path – but I like the ones that don’t fit the mold and abuse the tropes. You can indeed use them and do them well.  So with that said Midnight Thief is just well written and thankfully falls on the more mature side of YA with less angst and more focus on the plot, and less so on smoldering eyes and romance. If you love fantasy with a young resourceful heroine you can’t go wrong here.

A quickie note on Poison Dance the prequel to Midnight Thief:

It most definitely has a mature tone to it and I wouldn’t consider it to be a young adult prequel at all. I think it sets an excellent tone for Midnight Thief. It does not feature the main character Kyra from Midnight Thief – instead it is told from the perspective of James who is a secondary character in the main novel. It really helps us understand his motivations and the actions he takes in Midnight Thief. So it isn’t a must read, and in no way will you feel like you are missing information if you don’t read it but it is most definitely an enjoyable and quick read and might enhance your reading experience once you go to read Midnight Thief. (4 Stars)

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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60 Responses to “Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne”

  1. Jasprit

    I don’t think that I’ve heard of this book before, but from your review it definitely sounds like something that I would enjoy! I also like how the idea of a love triangle was dealt with pretty well. Thanks for the great review and for putting this book on mt radar!
    Jasprit recently posted…Monthly Recap: JuneMy Profile

  2. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Tabitha . . . this book . . . this book is like my last great hope for the year YA fantasy-wise. All but one of my favorite series have ended this year, and I have found not a single replacement. I am SO glad that you loved this one. I already have the prequel staring at me on my kindle, and I can’t wait to get my grabby hands on this one as well. Great review!
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Mini Reviews: Silent Blade & Silver Shark by Ilona AndrewsMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Really you are losing hope for YA Fantasy? Personally I think YA fantasy genre is so much stronger then it’s other sub genres. Hmmm I hear Kiss of Deception is good but then I haven’t read it yet – Tina will be reading it. Trial by Fire is going to get read by Maggie. I don’t know what other YA fantasies off the top of my head there will be. It’s so much lighter this year what with the push to contemporary the YA market seems to be undergoing.

      I hope you enjoy it. I know you can be quite the stickler so I’ll cross my fingers for yoU!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMy Profile

  3. Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy

    I’m so glad you loved it, and I’m really glad to hear you say “it’s on the more mature side” of YA because I read another review recently that said it felt almost like a middle grade book! I’ll be reading it soon and I really DIDN’T want it to feel young:-)
    Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy recently posted…Love Letter to Strange ChemistryMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      We’ll Mogsy thinks it’s more on the younger side as well. I think it all depends on what you feel represents more mature. As far as romantically, Kyra is inexperienced and there is no strong romantic element. For me because it didn’t focus on romance and instead was about her life struggles and taking care of those she felt responsible for made it more mature.
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  4. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    I’m so glad you loved this one Tabitha! I’ve been reading a number of mixed reviews lately, so it makes me happy to find such a positive one. I’m not thrilled about the hint of a love triangle, but I like that the romance is not the focus and therefore the relationships between the characters don’t turn into a giant tangle of reader frustration. Lovely review!
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Review: Better When He’s BadMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I don’t think many people are fans of triangle but believe me when I say there isn’t one and there is hardly a romantic focus at all in this book. The best part for me is …I can’t tell you hah, but I love that the ending is open ended but still gives you closure. It’s great!
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  5. Michelle

    Ouu, I’m so glad that you loved this one! I was recently notified that the ARC of this is getting sent to me… and should be here in a few days. *cheers* I’ve been reading mixed reviews of this and haven’t been sure if it’s going to be a hit or miss for me. Great review, I’m so eager to read it now! *fist pumps*
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  6. Kirsty-Marie

    Yessss! I’ve only read one other review back last week I think, which was a middle-ground one, and haven’t checked out the ratings on goodreads so didn’t know really what to expect. Glad to hear a lot of positives, especially when it comes to the romance (which I always tend to hate when it’s the main focus, but do like the romance to be present and not the focus, sounds like Midnight Thief did handle that well, and the maybe-ish love triangle. And yay, a book that can stand on it’s own (even if there is a sequel or turns into a trilogy) it’s how every book whether in a series or not, should do. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love cliff-hangers sometimes depending on how annoying and unnecessary that cliff-hanger is, but most of the time they’re just not needed.
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  7. Jessie H.

    WHAT?!? There’s a prequel. Maybe I need to pause my reading of this book and read that first. GAH! I’m so excited about this one! I read the first couple chapters last night before I lost power. I think I’m really going to enjoy it! Thank you so much for sending it to me!
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  8. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    “A little bit of stabby stab” – Oh my god I cried xD I can’t wait to read this book next week; every review I’ve read is full of glowing praise, so I’m really glad I actually preordered it. And everyone says that Poison Dance should be read before Midnight Thief, so I’m glad I read that one too. I agree with you though – it’s more mature than the usual YA stuff I read. But I’m excited to see James as the full guild leader; is he involved a lot or is it more the shady figure in the background?
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  9. Mogsy

    It’s interesting because instead of being more mature I felt this book went the other way with being more friendly with the younger spectrum of YA. The romance was very chaste, the violence was very toned down, and overall I thought the writing style was more light and simple. I would agree Poison Dance is definitely geared to older readers though – maybe I just can’t help but compare the two!
    Mogsy recently posted…Guest Post: “Writing the Revolution” by Django WexlerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I see exactly where you are coming from. When there is tons of angsty romance I equate that with the younger YA target audience. The hint of it but mostly Jack there of I figure those who read YA but aren’t looking top drown in YA romance would be the more mature side. In a way aren’t middle grade readers more mature then teenagers? Lol they care for action and adventure and plot. Where as the ten romance readers are all “the feels the feels, the ships, the ships” argh I wonder if I’m really joking or not with that statement. Lol
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMy Profile

  10. Megan (Adrift on Vulcan)

    Haha, I love all your headings for this review! And you can’t imagine how happy I am that this one lived up to your expectations. The author sent me the novella prequel to Midnight Thief (I think it was a prequel — Poison Dance) to read and I didn’t like it much, so I was worried that the actual book wouldn’t be that great either.

    Yes to good character development! It’s like a punch to the gut whenever the characters’ interactions are sudden and jerky, like the author is so eager for them to get on and kiss. So I’m glad that that wasn’t the case here. And ooh, I definitely wasn’t expecting James to make an appearance. I hope his character is a lot more developed here than he was in the novella, though — I didn’t like him much in the novella. :/

    I’m just telling you romance is not the focus of this book” — Oh, thank GOD. And no love triangle either?! GOOOOOD. I mean, I agree that it’s alright to use cliches in books, but just don’t make them stupid and sudden, I’m begging all authors. Unfortunately, many authors don’t think that way.

    Lovely review, Tabitha! I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed reviews for this one, tbh, but I’m happy you enjoyed it. I might check it out when I have the time. 🙂
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Well if you didn’t enjoy the novella then that might be key to you enjoying the book. Yes James makes an appearance and plays a big role but he doesn’t really get a whole lot of further development. I don’t believe he was really meant to be liked as a character much but to remain aloof and mysterious.

      And the style of writing stays the same for the most part except you have more detail and a more cohesive style because its longer novel. So given that it might not be for you after all. The focus is heavily on Kyra and Tristam (more so Kyra of course) and her character development and the predicament she gets put into by all these various circumstances. I do love that it wasn’t a romance book and it has a lot of great things going for it especially as compared to other mainstream YA books.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMy Profile

  11. Samantha

    I’ll definitely be going to pick these up, they sound really good! Especially because I haven’t been liking much Ive picked up in YA either, just way too much angst for me to handle.
    So if this doesn’t fit the mold or is like you said, done really well, then I can’t wait to try it out.
    By the way how’ve you been? 🙂 BEA was crazy but I’m glad we got to meet for a few mins! And Kelly and her cousin were awesome for showing me around more, so thanks for introducing us, it definitely made the experience better!

  12. Wendy Darling

    Hee hee, stabby stab. I just picked this up from ALA, so I’m happy to see that you liked it! I was a bit worried because a lot of the reactions to the prequel novella were mixed, but you can’t always rely on that as a gauge anyway, especially if it’s from a different POV.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Foodie Tour of NYC + All Four Stars giveawayMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Well I can see why some might not have liked the prequel. Strong themes and more of an adult prequel instead of a YA one. Read the prequel really quick and you’ll see what I mean – probably just less than an hour read for you. Maybe even 30 minutes or so.

      You went to ALA – I seethe with jealousy.
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  13. Lupdilup

    Oh! I’m loving that cover already. This sound like something I could really enjoy. No love triangle? Even better! I don’t have to have the romance be the focus of the story, in fact this kind of books translate beautiful to audio with the right narrator. I’m adding to my TBR and look for the audio.
    Thank you Tabitha 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…2014 Audiobook Challenge UpdateMy Profile

  14. Sarah

    I’ve heard so many good things about this one! Its has jumped way up my list of to-read and I cannot wait to get a copy of it. I’m wanting some better YA fantasy honestly, I can’t seem to hit many high good ones lately.
    Sarah recently posted…Coming to a Shelf Near You!My Profile

  15. Nikki

    Yessss LOVED this one–not as much as some people, but I think my 4 star rating was pretty good :3 THIS ONE WAS AMAZING. It sounded typical when I first read my synopsis, but I’m so happy I gave it a chance 😀
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  16. Faye @ The Social Potato

    I’m happy to see that you loved this one too Tabitha! I read it myself and am set to review it within the week, and I remember giving this 4 stars. I love how there really was no black and white motivations here, like people did what they did because they had reasons of their own, which, if seen in their perspective, makes a lot of sense. It all depends on which angle you’re looking into! Awesome review 🙂
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  17. Danya @ Fine Print

    No cliffhanger…no love triangle…no angst…badass lady thief who struggles with responsibility and the morals of her thievery…WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?! Disney Hyperion, you’ve done it again! I think I’m going to read this one too, since everyone is loving it so much. I’ll definitely read the prequel story first though!
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  18. Kim { Book Swoon }

    I read the prequel Poison Dance and really enjoyed it, and I’m so excited to get my hands on a copy if Midnight Thief. I love a fantasy with a young resourceful heroine. I’m also glad to hear that it’s a more mature YA with the focus on the plot. Wonderful review, Tabitha 🙂
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes it is more mature YA but in my opinion not as mature as Poison Dance. So I’d consider poison dance just Fantasy or even NA fantasy (if there is such a thing?) and Midnight Thief is still very much YA but I think could slip into the folds of crossover adult fantasy (if we didn’t have a YA genre around like back in the day 20 years ago lol)
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      • Kel

        Not necessarily harder, but differently. I had to focus on the overall “merit” or “worth” of the writing for four years for my major. Now I just rate based on whether I enjoyed a book. Of course, I rethink my rating system every other week, so reading my review is usually a safer bet. 😉

        I am trying to be a little more generous with my stars this year, even if it makes me want to go back and re-rate everything from before and drives me crazy. But I’m going to do it anyway because, especially with 3-stars, there’s a whole range of degrees of liking in there and it seems more misleading, if that makes sense. There are 3-stars I liked, but tons of things bugged me; and there are 3-stars I really liked, but they didn’t have the wow factor to match up to previous 4’s.

        So yeah, aiming to separate those out more clearly. And maybe even give books a shot at the fabled 5-star hall of fame (which has previously been reserved for major moments in my reading life and/or the perfect setting/characters/plot I’d been waiting for someone to write for years).
        Kel recently posted…Updates: Jumping into JulyMy Profile

        • Tabitha (Pabkins)

          I definitely think I’m more generous with my rating. I am however giving myself more of an OK to rate lower if its not for me or if it took me ages to get through etc. I totally understand rating on merit – but just because its a great idea, concepts, story – doesn’t mean it was delivered to me in a way to make it palatable you know?
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          • Kel

            I know what you mean. While I hope to help others find good books and avoid bad ones, this is also a record of what I’ve read; and it’s more helpful to me to look back and see what I liked or didn’t instead of what had great metaphors or themes but bored me to tears.
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I’ve heard different thoughts on the “matureness” One friend said she thought it was more like middlegrade because of the lack of romance. I tended to think in this case it made it more so. So I guess it really depends on your preference. I am so glad you loved it as well!
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  19. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Ah, what a lovely review ^^ I agree with you that I don’t mind the use of common tropes as long as it’s handled with some degree of originality and that the author’s unique style shines through. I have yet to get my hands on this one but it’s been on my wishlist since before it came out, so I’m thrilled to see such a positive review for it 😀 The two MCs sound solid and likeable, and the mixture of fantasy with a resourceful heroine sounds like perfection to me! Thanks for the review, I’m even more pumped to read this one now!
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    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I totally think Kyra is a very solid character! I think it’s a really well done fantasy balancing worldbuilding, character focus and story all while wrapping up a complete story by the end. I couldn’t ask for much more. By no means perfect entirely but most definitely one of the YA fantasy books I’ve enjoyed more so then so many others the past year. I hope you get your hands on it and enjoy it Micheline!
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  20. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    I keep hearing amazing things about this book. Very excited to pick it up! I read the novella a while back and was definitely intrigued. Assassin/thief stories are the coolest, and I’m glad that the potential doesn’t seem to be wasted.
    Also, since I hate love triangles, I’m very happy that there isn’t one in this book (and I think the author said in an interview there wouldn’t be in the next book either). Whew. Although I like more romance in my stories, this sounds too good to pass up.
    Great review!
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  21. [email protected]

    No love-triangle and no focus on the romance, you can’t imagine how happy that makes me! That’s the only thing that tempers my excitement for most books, so yes. And also no cliff-hanger? This book just can’t sound any better to me 🙂 I need to get it in my possession 😀

    [email protected]