In the midst of the technologically and biologically advanced kinsmen of her home planet, Meli Galdes is a melder. Melders are the rare result of a mutation that in Meli’s case permits her to operate an energy ribbon through a bracelet on her wrist, severing anything in its path. For years, Meli’s covertly filled the role of family assassin, killing whoever threatens the Galdes’ survival. But Meli’s tired of killing, and following her latest target, Meli’s promised retirement will begin. That is until Celino Cervanna, the ruthless leader of the Cervanna family, ensured their financial ruin. Celino, a man Meli once knew intimately, and who is responsible for her voluntary excise from the rest of the Galdes. Knowing what she knows, infiltrating his life will be easy, but will she be able to strike when the moment arrives?
This science fiction novella by Ilona Andrews – first published in 2009 – is the first book this year that I’ve wanted to kick myself for not reading sooner. I had the best intentions of doing so, but I used its shorter format as a justification for the delay. (“It’s just a short story.”) Which, no, it’s actually a novella, an important difference. Not smart guys, not smart. Have I not read every Kate Daniels and Edge novel by Ilona Andrews and been entertained by their uncanny knack for incredible worldbuilding Every. Single. Time? And they did it again, and it was even a meaner feat because Silent Blade is not a full-length novel. After wasting away for months on my Kindle, I finally opened it standing in line for Bitterblue at BEA this year, and the wait time flew by.
Did I mention that I couldn’t put Silent Blade down? Later at the MoMA, I cut into my visit in order to finish it. Meli and Celino’s turbulent past and unknown future are just that impossible to ignore. Fans of antagonism to attraction romances will feel at home here. Best of all, Meli’s myriad reasons for wanting Celino to die by the fire of a thousand suns are completely warranted. There is no easy resolution for reconciliation, let alone for these two to become a couple. Nevertheless, there are some seriously hot moments for Meli and Celino, and for those who are familiar with Ilona Andrews, Silent Blade is more along the lines of The Edge novels than the Kate Daniels series romance-wise, which is at times more spelled out than I’d like. As always, the space colonized world is both effortless to grasp and rich in every detail. I loved the vivid, touchable, and atmospheric setting of New Delphi. I have not forgotten the conjured images of colorful flowers, heady scents, and earthy architecture. I understand why the leap in time at the resolution was necessary to the plot but in a shorter format, it felt abrupt. (Perhaps I just wanted more?) I appreciated the hard-earned ending for Meli and Celino though, and look forward to reading more Kinsmen novellas. If you’re an Ilona Andrews fan and you haven’t read Silent Blade yet, what are you waiting for? It is a must-read.