– SPOILER FREE REVIEW –
Title: Poison Study (Study #1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release date: October 1st, 2005
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Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…
This book was. So. Much. Fun. The perfect start for a fantasy series. It’s fast-paced, with great characters, and with an interesting world that the author brings to life little by little throughout the novel. I can see it becoming one of those comfort books I turn to when others have disappointed me.
First of all, I really liked the main characters. Yelena, our narrator, was strong and brave, but she still was afraid whenever she was threatened and was also very cautious. In the midst of main characters who are always fearless, Yelena was a breeze of fresh air. She wasn’t exactly special, she learned and worked hard to achieve what she wanted and to survive, which I appreciated. This way, we can see her grow.
Valek, the chief of security, was very intriguing. We don’t know that much about his life, but we still get to know him as a character and also see him grow. He showed two different sides – a serious and cold one and then a more playful and caring one. Of course, in Valek terms, ‘playful’ might be too big a word. He was loyal and smart, but not all-knowing. I tend to love quiet characters with secrets that don’t let other in easily, so I loved him.
“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”
The secondary characters were good and some were very sweet (Ari and Janco were adorable), but I definitely wanted to know more of them and was left a bit disappointed that they weren’t as developed. Of course, this might be by how fast-paced this novel was! I was constantly worried about Yelena and wanted her to be safe and well, but there was no rest. Especially in the second part of the novel, where I felt like the ending was a bit rushed.
A constant theme throughout the novel is how women weren’t treated equally under the former ruler, but with the new Commander, things started to change. We see women in the military, women working, fighting, etc. So, when something happened in the book that equated strength and power solely with being a man, I was extremely disappointed. I can’t quite go into it, because spoilers, but it was a messy representation that I hope gets a different angle in the next books.
Something I did enjoy was the romance. Going into this novel, I wasn’t expecting any, but I’m actually happy how it turned out! It wasn’t insta-love. It was actually quite the opposite. I honestly didn’t see it coming and I was so glad when I finally understood what was going on.
“You have my attention. But give me what I want, and you can have everything.”
The concept, the characters, the world, and pretty much everything about this book was enjoyable. I can’t wait to discover more about this land, its people, and its mysteries. For anyone looking for an easy action-packed fantasy read, give Poison Study a chance and you’ll be captivated by it!