In The Shadow of Their Dying, by Anna Smith Spark and Michael R. Fletcher

18 Mar 2024

The Book

In The Shadow of Their Dying
Pages: 143
Age Group: Adult
Published on 19 Mar 2024
Publisher: Grimdark Magazine
Available on:


The third best assassin. A second rate mercenary crew. One terrifying demon.

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.  

My Review

In The Shadow of Their Dying is a grimdark standalone novella, written by two of the most prominent voices in the genre, as Anna Smith Spark and Michael R. Fletcher are, and published by Grimdark Magazine. Beautifully written, we find ourselves immersed in the siege of Sharaam, a city that is close to crumble under the pressure, in a matter of days.

Tash, the third best assassin of the city, is hired to get rid of the king of Sharaam, a way to prove his value and that will probably end with the war; however, he didn't expect to find the king guarded by a demon bound in the body of a woman, Iananr. She thrives in blood and destruction, and while her bonding forces her to protect the king, she yearns for freedom; her bond forces her to find Tash and get rid of him.
Pitt is leading a mercenary crew; hiring Tash to kill the king was the plan to get his crew out of the Tsaril siege and leave the hellhole Sharaam has become. But if something is clear, is that plans and reality don't macerate well together.

The atmosphere of Sharaam is masterfully crafted, transmitting the gore and the desperation that comes as a result of the prolonged siege; citizens are literally fighting for the last resources and trying to get some coins, even if that means deceiving and robbing other people. Desperation is the word that defines the situation, something perfectly captured by the prose of Fletcher and Smith Spark.
In this context, we are spectators of the race between Tash, Pitt and Iananr to get the upper hand, fighting to get advantage, even at the cost of destruction and more death.

Being a collaborative project, it is interesting to see how the personal touch of each one of the authors shapes some details. Tash's voice is definitely a result of Fletcher's writing, fast-paced and snarky, dark humoured; and you can totally recognize Smith Spark's writing in the voice of Ianarn, almost rhythmical writing, obsessing over the words and the ideas.

In The Shadow of Their Dying is an excellent and intense grimdark novella; a collaborative effort that has produced an incredible book. If you are a fan of the genre, or want to try both authors, this is an excellent taster!

The Author/s

Anna Smith Spark

Anna Smith Spark

Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history, and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher, and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart, and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at SFF conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author, a grilled cheese aficionado, and a whiskey-swilling reprobate. He spends his days choreographing his forklift musical (titled "Get Forked"), and using caffeine as a substitute for sanity. Any suggestions that he is actually Dyrk Ashton in disguise are all lies.