3-star · Book Reviews · Series

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria. V. Snyder

★★★ ½/★★★★★
Title: Poison Study (Study #1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
PubDate: March 1, 2007
Page count: 409

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.”

Study series is included on my 5 Series I’ll Finally Read in 2016 so I’m trying to get around it now while I have the time. The first in the series, Poison Study, was promising and I was actually excited when I picked it up because I always enjoy books with assassins and it had female protagonist but there were things in the book that didn’t quite satisfy me.

Plot summary:
The book follows Yelena’s life when she becomes the Commander’s food taster. She was actually a +convicted murderer but was given a life-changing offer to become the next food taster. The job isn’t really that easy and safe, tasting the Commander’s food for poison, but Yelena knew it was better than facing the noose so she accepted it. She then trains under Valek, Commander’s right hand and an assassin, and to make sure Yelena wouldn’t try to escape, Valek feeds her a poison called Butterfly Dust. Now Yelena has to come to him every morning to drink an antidote that only he has or else she’ll die.

The story picks up when the father of the man Yelena murdered, Brazell, finds out that she wasn’t hanged and sends men to kill her instead. Valek, worrying he would have to train a new food taster when Yelena dies, protects Yelena from Brazell’s men and lets her stay with him in his suite. Yelena also decided to learn how to fight with the help of Ari, Janco and Maren, so she can protect herself.

There’s also magic involved in the book and Yelena herself is developing magical abilities which are illegal in Ixia. Magicians were long killed or they fled to Sitia when the Commander took over Ixia. So in order to keep herself alive, Yelena didn’t tell anyone about her magic except to Irys who tries to kill her in the Fire festival and who is also a magician like her. Irys tells Yelena to come with her to Sitia so they can train her how to use her growing magic but Yelena knew she couldn’t because she needs to get the antidote to Valek everyday in order to live. Instead, she asks Irys to give her a year so she can somehow think of a way how to secretly get a recipe of the antidote from Valek.

The story then heats up when the Commander announces that he picked a new successor. Valek suspects that something is not right and it makes him moody which Yelena doesn’t like. They then start to investigate and find out that Brazell and his right hand, Mogkan who is also a magician, have something to do with it.

Though I had a hard time connecting with Yelena at first, I loved that she was a strong and smart protagonist. The other characters were also engaging especially Ari and Janco and I loved that they were loyal to Yelena and treated her like a sister. I had some issues with Valek like how I would always remind myself that he’s a 30+ something man because there were times that he failed to act like his age. Or maybe it’s just me! But I loved him nonetheless. He was a bad-ass assassin and who doesn’t love a bad-ass assassin anyway? For the world-building, there wasn’t much in it but I guess it was enough to guide the readers.

Another thing that failed to impress me was the way it was written. Don’t get me wrong, the plot was good and everything else was fine but the dialogues sometimes threw me off. Like sometimes they conversed with modern language and it didn’t quite fit with the time they live in. But then again, maybe it’s just me! I was also waiting for the romance to happen but it didn’t until the latter part of the book. Yelena and Valek’s romantic connection was expected to happen and when it finally did – BAM! They really made a great pair because they were both smart and strong and loyal. But I was hoping for more romantic interactions! Tsk. Anyway, the ending was sweet and it was the reason for the added ½ star! 

“What have I earned form you, Valek? Loyalty? Respect? Trust?
“You have my attention. But give me what I want, and you can have everything.

So, while I enjoyed some parts of the book, there were times I got bored, too. I think I wasn’t just emotionally attached to it like I wanted to and it failed to live up my expectations



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