ARC Review by Jude: The Poison Within by Kasia Bacon



Black clouds of xenophobia gather over Radvadur, the western province of the Empire. The political climate is strained and fragile. A surge of Nymph refugees has stirred widespread hostility towards non-humans. When the investigation of a gruesome triple murder linked to the refugee camp ensues, it takes Inspector Käyru Skaer and his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn, along an unusual path, at the end of which a precious gift awaits.

Käyru and Elly are worlds apart in social standing, but they have found common ground in the bedroom—up against the wall and the stable doors, too. The arrangement between them ought to have been temporary and of no consequence. As their circumstances change, will they find the courage to risk their hearts?

This is the first story in The Order series 

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*I was provided a copy of this review by the author in return for an honest review*


I enjoyed this — I have a penchant for fantasy stories, particularly when there’s great world building involved. I definitely saw a potential for that in this story. The fact that it’s a short story makes it hard to get a sense of the world being built. As a reader, I felt like I was dropped right in the middle of the action, so it took a few minutes to get my bearings.

I loved Käyru and Elly’s relationship. Bacon does a good job of investing the reader in their relationship from the start. The chemistry and care they have is evident and drew me in. I immediately wanted more of their story leading up to where this book started.

One can easily see how current political/social events are mirrored in the book and in one of the plot threads that runs through this short story.  I think there is a great deal of potential there. The brevity of the story, however, felt like it affected the ability to really explore it in depth or with depth. I almost felt as if this aspect of the story depended on readers to have an emotional investment in current affairs, and to have that investment do some of the work of making that aspect more visceral. That said, this is probably something that will be enriched in future stories.

The writing is lovely. Bacon is clearly talented and I loved her prose and turns of phrase. I am excited to see where Käyru and Elly’s relationship go moving forward, based on where it ended.

This story is loosely related to another Order Series Short The Mutt

About the Author

A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.

Find her online at:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Email / Pintrest

Genre: Fantasy Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Review Self Published Short Story Tag: Illness / Injury

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Instagram: /judemsierra/

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