Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Poison Study

by Maria v. Snyder
Start Date: 13 July 2011
End Date: 14 July 2011
Paperback, 409 pages
Published November 21st 2008

Summary (from Goodreads):
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...

My Review:
Poison Study was fantastically written. I loved reading about Yelena, and slowly discovering her story. Although the book starts out after Yelena has already confessed to committing murder, the reader suspects (and of course eventually finds out) that she wouldn't have done it if it wasn't the last possible situation. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that Yelena was totally justified in killing Reyad. From the beginning, I was immediately drawn into Yelena's narrative. It seems I have a particular fondness for books that start with the main character in prison for a crime they admitted to committing (see my review of The Thief). I find they make for very interesting main characters. In any case, from the beginning, I had a feeling Poison Study was going to be good. Then Yelena meets Valek and is given the Butterfly Dust, and it only got better from there.

The characters were great - fleshed out really well and so much fun to read about - and the politics were nearly as good as those of The Queen's Thief (which, if you haven't read The Queen's Thief, is high, high praise). The way that Snyder describes Yelena's magic is also wonderful. It's so original, yet it makes total sense. (The whole blanket metaphor was so cool!)

And finally, Valek. Valek was one of the main reasons I read Poison Study in the first place, or at least, he is what brought it to my attention. He lost to Aragorn in the YA Fantasy Showdown (in my opinion, simply because Aragorn was better known) but that definitely made me keep an eye out for Poison Study, since I have rarely been steered wrong by a recommendation from the YA Fantasy Showdown. Valek was a wonderful character. He was just mysterious enough, just human enough, and developed throughout the book into a character I'd love to read more about (and hopefully will in the sequels).


Small Review said...

Yes! So happy you liked this :) Valek so would have won in that fantasy showdown. The way they wrote that scene (with the poisoned daggers) is totally what would have happened. And, much as I love them both, Valek is sneaky and Aragorn isn't.

I so need to read those MWT books already! I've already been kicking myself for not having gotten around to reading them yet, but comparing them to Poison Study is the way to my heart.

Oh, and I agree 100% Yelena was justified in killing him.

Pica said...

I agree! Now that I've read Poison Study, I would have totally voted for Valek to win (I didn't vote either way on the original battle). In the battle for the YA fantasy showdown, Valek seemed impressive, but now that I know the character so much better, he just seems awesome. Also, I would like to see Yelena take on a battle, as she seems pretty good as well, especially with her new magic, once she gets that under control.

Yes, you should definitely read The Thief. It's one of my absolute favorite books, and if you liked Poison Study, there is a very (very, very, very, very) good chance you will like MWT as well. There are a lot of similarities between the two, even though they are in different sub-genres. For example, in the first book of The Queen's Thief, there is no romance and no magic as there is in Poison Study, but both have clever and capable MCs who have a hidden past. (And they both start out in prison, of course.) I'd love to hear your thoughts on MWT - I don't think you'll be disappointed.


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