Thorns and Tangles(Zane Halloway Book #1) by P.T. Hylton is a highly enjoyable assassin for hire novella with a strong magic system that reminded me of The Kingkiller Chronicles’ sygaldry. Highly recommend it if you are into mysterious assassin characters with a touch of Sherlock Holmes like detective work and persona.
Zane is an assassin for hire and his apprentice, Lily, is a young woman that excels in her position. A man approaches Zane with an assassination job, to kill one of the most talented Abditus Society mages, Irving Farns. At the Abditus Society, they create magical devices, thorns can be used to attack someone, while a tangle can be used to protect against other thorns. The assassination job is to kill the best creator of tangles the world has ever seen. In order to do that, Zane and Lily must penetrate the world of the Abditus Society, including befriending Farns’ own daughter, and gain valuable information in slightly less than legal ways.
I really enjoyed this novella. The magic system really interested me. Because it is an offensive and a defensive magic system that is highly competitive against each other, both sides, those that make thorns, and those that make tangles, are always trying to get a leg up on the other. Just when one person has created the most powerful thorn, someone else has created a tangle to try to stop it. The secrets of these items are highly valued and very few people are called to be a part of the Abditus Society.
Zane and Lily are interesting characters and there is enough mystery about both characters that make me want to read more about them. Hylton does well at keeping information from the reader about Zane, to create a more mysterious persona. The writing is solid, the dialogue being the most stand out part of it. I was wanting more description though at times, because the dialogue made up a lot of the novella.
One thing that I found amusing was how normal the idea of an assassin for hire is in this world. Even though Zane’s job description is actually to find information and items that people want, his “noir detective” like office, where he talked about killing someone for price, was the highlight of the book for me.
My main criticism is the lack of description and the short length, but for a 83 page novella, that was only .99, you really can’t go wrong with it. Highly entertaining from start to finish. I will be looking forward to the future installments because there is more about this world, magic, and characters I want to learn.