Bernobich is a master at writing the spy tale laced with a little bit of magic; she does not disappoint with this novella based in her River of Souls world. Arbija is a well-conceived character whose need to take on many faces leaves her naturally uncertain of who she really is, though this is drawn out subtly throughout the story. The supporting cast is as deep and rich as in the full length novels set in this world; a task which is often difficult to accomplish in tales of this length. The one drawback to this story is that because it is an origins story for the River of Souls, there will be a limited pull of readership and some readers may find it difficult to make necessary associations and connections. The void is not well-described and reader understanding of it can be lost — hopefully that would make the reader pick up the full length novels to find out more!

Arbija has been training in magic and subterfuge since she was very young. Now, after her sister has tried and failed to infiltrate the very palace at the heart of the Erythandran Empire, Arbija must try to succeed. She soon discovers that all of her training at stealth has not been as extensive as it needs to be; one after another, she is discovered by lovers and mortal enemies. But which is which, and whose intentions can she trust? (TOR.COM, Sept., dl, $1.99)

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Reviewed by: 
Victoria Frerichs