Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
A quick death
Or slow poison…
Yelena has a choice – be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.
Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?
When Yelena realises she has extraordinary powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death…
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead
I’m in love with this book. The characters, the plot, the world. There was a moment when I was reading this book that I just fell in love with the whole thing. Also, the magic and the way it worked in this world was pretty cool. The story in the book centers around Yelena and her choice to become food taster for Commander Ambrose.
I quite like the cover I have, and I love the mysterious flame thing. Also, although it’s hard to see in this picture, there are words on the black background (murderer, magic, secrets, my love) which suggest main parts of the plot. I really like that extra detail on the cover.
The plot of this book was awesome. It focuses on Yelena and her struggles as food taster. There was so much going on in the book – spies, assassins, magic, fighting, fire, assassins, friendship, romace and more assassins. You may be able to tell that I loved the whole assassins vibe in this book. All the different elements in the book pulled together to make this brilliant combination that was the plot. And there were also so many plot twists in this book! But they all worked really well, and I never would have guessed the one about Ambrose. I loved the face that the majority of my questions were answered (like the ‘which food isn’t poisoned test’) and nothing got on my nerves too much.
Yelena is a badass. She doesn’t stop to mope about her situation at all. Even though she’s been locked in a dungeon for a year and now faces possible death every day, she gets on with her life and finds ways to learn new skills (like self-defense and fighting.) She’s ready to put hard work into making her situation better and, even though she has this terrible past in which awful things happened to her, she doesn’t dwell on it. She doesn’t even let anyone know about it until near the end of the novel. Talking of her past, I felt so awful for Yelena. I really felt for her and her situation and how much it must have taken her to tell someone about everything that had happened. And even when she was going through that terrible time, she still tried to make her situation better by practicing acrobatics and aiming towards winning at the fire festival. She has so much strength in her, and she has easily joined my list of favourite heroines.
Valek is such a good match for Yelena. At the beginning of the novel, there was no way that I expected them to end up together, but I loved the way their relationship grew. It was slow and steady and they had to learn to trust each other before they could confide in each other. And Valek’s character was so lovely too. The moment when she discovers his sculptures is lovely and it showed a completely different side to Valek. And I really fell in love with Valek when he gave Yelena that necklace – that scene was so adorable. And the hay scene. I don’t blame Yelena for liking him.
Ari and Janco were the best secondary characters ever. They were brilliant. There was banter. There was a strong relationship between them. They were so brotherly and protective towards Yelena, and it just made me love them so much. The little things they’d say too were so in line with their character. Dilana was another great side character, although she didn’t appear very often. She was so motherly towards Yelena and just wanted to help all the time, I loved her.
The Little Things
Assassins. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to read a book about assassins.
Yelena and Valek’s conversations were brilliant. It just worked so well. I absolutely adore those two. The scene where they were talking about what they would in a world that was at peace was so nice. And the scene in the dungeons…
FIRE FESTIVAL! I want to go to a fire festival so much. The way it was described was so enchanting. The whole fire dancers and acrobatic thing going on definitely appealed to me. All the different competitions that people would enter sounded really interesting to me, and it just sounded like a whole lot of fun.
This book was stunning. I’d started reading it thinking it would be pretty good, but it was so much better than I was expecting. I’d recommend it to any fantasy lovers out there, people who don’t like love triangles and want a romantic relationship that develops over time and people who want brilliant side characters.