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In the Shadow of their Dying


Michael R. Fletcher and Anna Smith Spark



“The third best assassin

A second-rate mercenary

One terrifying demon.”

The Blurb

As Sharaam crumbles under siege, a mercenary crew hires an assassin to kill the king. For Tash, it’s a chance at glory-to be the best blade in the dark Sharaam has ever known. For Pitt, it’s a way to get his cutthroat crew past the Tsarii siege and out of this hellhole, maybe even with some gold to their name. For Iananr the Bound One, it’s a dream of shadows and human blood.


I just finished In the Shadow of their Dying by Michael R. Fletcher and Anna Smith Spark.

Oh, how do I describe this novella?

A delicious grimdark work of chaos, that’s how.

The chaos starts on page one. The scene is set. We have a siege. A city on the verge of collapse. What could expediate the fall of this city? The death of the king, of course.

Enter the third best assassin in the city. Tash. Highly regarded by himself, less so by others. He is left to briefly wonder why he was chosen for this well-compensated task. Where, for example, are the best and second-best assassins in the city? Indeed, there is a reason Tash has been hired…

But I won’t go into that reason, because with the scene set so quickly, a siege scene which we can all conjure so well, the story begins immediately. And thus, this is the allure of this novella. It packs a lot of story into those pages.

In the Shadow of their Dying felt like a very meaty novella, if you know what I mean. Like a proper story rather than a snippet of one, and it moves along at a brisk pace. Don’t get me wrong, there is description. The city is a character, but not one we need to linger on. We don’t need to. What we are given are a bunch of characters trying to flee this falling city and whose POV we skip between.

I knew as soon as I read the first sentence of chapter 2 that I had Anna Smith Spark writing for me. Iananr was such a cool character, with a voice and powers so horrific that it immediately gave the story a heightened sense of tension, even with all the bombs flying overhead. As the story progresses and the tactics to ruin the city become more and more sinister, we learn there are many gruesome ways for our pack of assassins and thieves to die if they’re not careful.

This is a fantastical story. We have shrouds, demons, and necromancy. And as I said, this is grimdark – and I haven’t read something this grimdarky in quite some time. That’s code for prepare yourself for blood and guts and death.

I’d highly recommend In the Shadow of their Dying for all those who want a delicious slice of anarchy, demon fights, backstabbing and the undead. Anna Smith Spark and Michael R. Fletcher have served up a treat. It would be rude to refuse.


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