Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
or: Sweet Baby Jesus Someone Send Help
Synopsis: Choose: 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
Before the review begins, indulge me for a second.
Oh my god.
SWEET ODIN’S RAVEN.
*does a weird jiggly dance for a few seconds trying to get the feels out*
Ok, I’m good now. Let the review begin.
What. a. book.
It’s rare that one finds a book like this, and I’m so glad I decided to pick this book up. This was an impulse buy at the book store when I was picking up another book, and bless whatever power sent this book my way.
As a relative late comer to this series, I’ve found this first book as addictive as the commander’s beloved Criollo. Augh if I don’t get my hands on the next books soon, I’m going to combust.
Initially doubtful- I was worried I was going to encounter a sickly love story told in a disparate ye-olde-times world- I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was quickly sucked into the rich, immensely complex world of Ixia and quickly fell in to back Yelena 100%.
The world Snyder creates is vividly beautiful but she doesn’t dump information on you all at once. She lets the world, the customs and the backstory slowly unfold much like a flower slowly opening to reveal the inside. Its honestly worth the wait for the background info, and helps to keep you firmly entrenched in her world. It almost feels like you’re drifting along behind Yelena like a ghost, watching helplessly as she makes trademark bad decisions and then overcomes them.
Valek’s transition from bad guy to morally grey love interest is intriguing and its honestly a relief that Snyder doesn’t create a tragic backstory for Valek; she presents him as he is, and never excuses his past behavior. He’s immensely likable even though the moral codes surrounding him are watery. Snyder presents a Stokholm-esque love between Yelena and Valek (that’s totally not a spoiler; its obvious from the beginning) and its hard not to excuse it. I mean sure it’s kinda creepy and totally not ethically cool, but its hard to gather motivation to hate the pairing. The ying-yang effect – my favourite literary couple dynamic- makes it hard not to root for the pair and the millions upon millions of obstacles in their way.
The characters are all immensely likable. In fact I honestly cannot bring up a character that made me wince; well… the baddies of this book honestly (this one I will hide due to spoilers) but only because they were the villains- they were amazingly strong characters. Of note were Ari and Janco who so quickly worked their way into my heart they now have achieved a spot in my legendary sidekick hall of fame.
There are so many plot points I did not see coming and this was such an exciting book to read that the adrenaline barely left my system. I grew cranky each time I was forced to put this book down because I was desperate to know what happened.
This is definitely a new favourite and I highly, highly recommend it. Honestly its been a few weeks since I’ve read this book, and I still cant form enough logical and coherent thoughts to do a book review that gives this book justice. Honestly, you’re just going to have to take my strong words and go and pick up a copy.