2014 Indies Introduce New Voices Pick
2015 Tome Society It List
2015 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee
“This debut novel, sure to be the first in a series, is filled with adventure and intrigue.” —School Library Journal, starred review of audio version
“This fresh, exciting fantasy follows the adventures of Kyra, a young thief in the city of Forge, and Tristam, a knight whose star is rising. The story is tightly written, with a perfect mix of romance, peril, and mystery. I didn’t want to put this book down. ” —Emily Ring, Inklings Bookshop, Indies Introduce Panelist
“An engaging balance of character-driven adventure, coming-of-age at dawn, unexpected plot turns, and unusually strong world-building make Midnight Thief just the thing for 12-and-up fantasy readers.” —Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garret, Indies Introduce Panelist
“A debut fantasy spins standard tropes into a dark, morally complex adventure.
Fearless former “gutter rat” Kyra gleefully steals from the wealthy, while the upright knight Tristam pledges to defend the city of Forge against the marauding Demon Riders. When the charismatic James persuades Kyra to aid the Assassins Guild in their effort to undermine the corrupt aristocracy, the ensuing plots and counterplots strain loyalties and threaten the entire city. Hoary genre clichés are refreshed by nuanced portrayal: Forge appears a typical medieval-ish fantasy city, but it’s rife with oppression and festering resentments; the Demon Riders’ wildcats, the only magical element, feel convincingly alien. Kyra, at first seeming a tiresome rehash of the “thief with a heart of gold” type, has her naïveté ripped away with a shockingly brutal choice that sends repercussions reverberating throughout the story. James, introduced as a charmingly seductive bad boy, loses his romantic appeal with his cynical manipulations. Even Tristam, the most conventionally virtuous protagonist, finds that base methods in pursuit of laudable ends have tragic consequences. Each character must choose between bad and worse options, and not all make the “right” decision. While both Kyra and Tristam achieve redemption (of a sort) by the end, they pay a cruel price—and neither is altogether certain it was worth the cost.
While this volume comes to a satisfying conclusion, thoughtful readers will keep pondering the future of Forge and its people.” — Kirkus Reviews
A lifetime of thieving to make ends meet on the streets of Forge has left seventeen-year-old Kyra a bit morally flexible, so when she’s approached by the leader of the Assassins Guild to put her sneaking skills to use fighting the “fatpurse” nobles, she accepts. Her first kill, however, sends her into a guilt-ridden tailspin and she flees. When she’s eventually captured by the Palace Guard, she realizes (along with the help of a handsome young knight) that her activities with the Guild were actually assisting the advancement of the Demon Riders, a group of rebel barbarians responsible for brutal attacks in the countryside. Blackburne offers up a complex world where no one is entirely evil or good, and even those wrestling for power through less than civil means are inspired by noble intentions. Kyra is an appealing heroine, confident in her physical prowess but insecure in her identity, and teenagers in particular may relate to her increasing frustration as her attempts to establish her independence and her own beliefs are constantly thwarted by the powers that be. The romance between Kyra and Tristam, the knight, unfolds sweetly, but it’s Kyra’s journey toward self-discovery, especially as her childhood connection to the Demon Riders is revealed, that takes precedence. There are plenty of narrow escapes, thrilling chases, and tender kisses to accompany the more thoughtful elements here, too, and readers will be pleased with a satisfactory conclusion that leaves room for a sequel or two. KQG — BCCB
Seventeen and long orphaned, Kyra has grown up using her natural speed and stealth to thieve her way through life on Forge’s streets. James, the Assassins Guild’s attractive and politically minded young leader, recruits Kyra with handsome rewards for herself and her friends, but at what cost? Kyra’s dangerous new job turns deadly, and she finds her mission entangled with that of a Palace knight, Tristam, who seeks vengeance for his friend killed by Demon Riders, barbarians who ride on the backs of vicious wildcats. Third-person alternating narratives between Kyra and Tristam effectively set the pace and tension leading up to their unlikely alliance and thrilling discovery of Kyra’s heritage. External conflict among the assassins, nobles, and Demon Riders is balanced by Kyra’s internal conflict as she faces harrowing moral decisions that make her question her true nature and the measures she will take to protect loved ones. While earlier chapters read more like medieval-era historical fiction and may not appeal to the most reluctant readers, Blackburne’s fast-paced fantasy will please fans of Leigh Bardugo and Tamora Pierce. This page-turning debut answers immediate questions and provides satisfying character development, while leaving ample room for additional installments. -School Library Journal