Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Also in this series: Magic Study, Fire Study
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: August 15th 2012
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
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Murder, mayhem and magic…
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.
This is a re-read for me, in preparation for the 3rd and final book in this trilogy, Fire Study (which I will review in a couple days).
Poison Study is the first person tale of Yelena, a woman sentenced to death for murdering the son of a high ranking General in Ixia. On the day she’s to be executed, she’s brought before The Commander’s first in command, Valek, to confess her crimes before she’s taken to the gallows and hung. Instead, Valek offers her the position of food taster for the Commander. She’s put on the spot: Die now, or possibly die later by poison. She chooses the possible poison. Yelena says that only a fool wouldn’t accept, and that she is no fool.
The training of a food taster really surprised me. She was forced to sample a lot of different poisons so that she could recognize them in the Commander’s meals, some of which leave her so ill she’s incoherent for days. And if she survives her training, there’s a good possibility she won’t survive a plot to murder the Commander.
As Yelena finds out more and more about what’s going on around her the entire picture changes, and she’s forced to look deep inside herself for strength she isn’t sure she possesses. Not only that, but a traitorous plot is revealed and Yelena seems to be right in the middle of it. Plus, the General whose son she murdered isn’t happy to wait around and see if she dies by poison.
As the story develops, and I was shown more and more of Yelena’s world, I was completely drawn in. And just when I thought I’d figured out what was going on, a new revelation would occur and I’d have to review everything I thought I knew about the story and characters. It truly made me think, which doesn’t happen that often.
I also have to tell you that the romance was just an added bonus. When I first started reading, I didn’t even think this was a romance novel. But as I watched Yelena fall in love, I was pleasantly surprised!
I truly admired the way MVS brought in new characters, as well. Though there are several by the end of the book, they were introduced gradually and I never felt overwhelmed or like there was too much going on at once. There was also a magical element to this story that I didn’t expect, but which, I felt, was also an added bonus.
Overall I was extremely impressed. So much so that I immediately ordered the second installment, Magic Study (review to follow).
As a first novel, I’d say Maria V. Snyder certainly left her mark. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from MVS in the future.
5 out of 5
The series is as follows: