Saturday, 27 September 2014

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Series: Study, Book One
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
Published: 21st September 2007
Number of Pages: 416
Book: Bought
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Alcohol and Sexual Assault/Torture References
No Drug References
Author's Site: Maria V. Snyder

Blurb from Goodreads:
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...

"To Yelena, our newest food tester.  May you last longer than your predecessor…"
Ixia is a military state, run by the Commander.  It is split into eight Military Districts, each ruled by a General.  This is Yelena's world.
Yelena is in prison, awaiting her hanging.  She's there because she killed the son of one of Ixia's Generals.  A life for a life.  Her death is imminent - any day now.
And then she's summoned.  At first she thinks they've scheduled the hanging.  
She's wrong.
She's called in by Valek, one of the Commander's most loyal advisors, person security chief and leader of the intelligence network of Ixia.  And she's offered a chance.  A chance to live.  
She can either become the Commander's food taster and risk her life every day, or she can die right now.
Yelena is no fool.  She would rather live in fear of poison than die from the hangman's noose.
But the poison might not kill her.  She's trapped in a whole new world, one where she doesn't know who to trust, who will try to kill her next, and one where a powerful southern magician is after her.  When Yelena discovers her own hidden gifts, life becomes even more dangerous than it ever was.  Every way she looks, every possible path she could take, seems to end in death.
What do you choose when the only choice is to die...?
I adore Maria V. Synder.  The woman is a freaking legend.  Literally everything she writes is pure gold.  Her fantasies are some of the best I've ever come across.  And her Yelena Zaltana series is one of my favourites.  Partly due to the world.  Partly due to the characters.  A large part due to the amazing Yelena.  And partly - ok, mostly - because of Valek.  I have a minor crush on Valek...  But seriously.  This is my second read of Poison Study and I still love it just as much – was still just as hooked!  It is one hell of a book – with one hell of a book boyfriend living within!
God, all of Snyder's characters rock.  They are all just so very real and awesome and complex and hard to judge!  And I love or hate them to absolute pieces.  As in, I either want to hug-slash-marry them or cut them in half!
Yelena is everything you could possibly want in your leading gal: tough, strong, smart, resourceful and damaged in a way that makes her even more vulnerable and hard at the same time.  She was really kind of ruthless – so dangerous – and yet she was also one of the sweetest people ever.
And then Valek.  Oh, Valek.  You are so wonderfully complex and so completely irresistible.  I loved trying to figure him out - and seeing that sweeter side of him!  And an artist too... a damaged, bad-boy assassin-artist.  Excuse me while I swoon!
I absolutely adored Janco and Ari – they killed me!  They had to be two of my favourites in the book, barring Yelena and my dear Valek.  They were just so funny!  Then again, I did have a wee bit of a soft spot for Rand – he was sweet, though I wasn't so keen on his moodiness and emotional instability.  Then again, it was all understandable really...  I also liked Maren: she was totally fierce!  And the Commander...  For the longest time, I didn't know what to do with him.  But he was so so much more than meets the eye – his secret was genius and made me so proud of him, he was just so strong and so brave.  
But I hated Reyad so so much.  I was slightly put off by the fact that Yelena had killed someone for a reason no one seemed to know.  And then, slowly, we found out why.  And I hated Reyad's guts.  I could literally murder him dead dead dead.  He was horrible – the devil.  I could have strangled him!  How could he do that to Yelena?  How could anyone do that to another person?!  Wasn't so keen about the surviving baddies either: Grr...
The relationships were brilliant.  I especially loved the romantic one between Valek and Yelena.  It wasn't instalove.  It wasn't instahate.  The relationship was slow and sweet, with each earning the other's trust little by little as their bond bloomed and grew.  I loved every single moment they spend together and am just aching for more Yelena-and-Valek moments!  I also, however, loved Yelena's friendship with Janco and Ari – it was so funny!  I wish I had big brothers like them! 
Maria's world building is literally second to none.  Each and every one of her worlds are incredible, intricate, complex and beautifully created.  They honestly take my breath away.  Study's world could not be more real if Maria V. Snyder wrote a million-page book just on this very world (which I would still read, by the way).  And I loved how she described it – much like Bardugo's writing, this world wasn't heavy.  There wasn't infuriating over-description: more than enough details for technocolour but not enough that my head began to hurt.  
And there was literally always something going on in this book – there wasn't a single dull moment anywhere!  There was always a conspiracy or a mystery or spying or fighting or bone-melting romantic suspense scenes.  Many of the events in the plot I just did not see coming.  I loved every single twist: absolutely loved them all.  And I liked that people died.  That sounds so twisted, but I always find a death or two is more realistic...  Man, I need help...
Sometimes you just need to read the first few pages of a book to know that it's special.  In my opinion, Poison Study is that book: I knew by the second chapter that it would be a five star read – and it only got better from there!  It may be a book about magic but it has a magic of its very own.  It completely bewitched me, having me up until three in the morning to finish and then immediately ordering the next book.  If only I hadn't had exams when I first read it: I could have read the entire series three times over by now – and still wouldn't've had enough of it all and of Valek!
A book full of magic, spies, treachery, murder, friendship, passion and a bit more magic, Poison Study is something The Book Addicted Girl recommends one-hundred-percent with all of her heart, be you a high fantasy lover or a contemp queen.  Read it.  You'll love it.  Trust me.  But Valek's mine, so back off...!
Ok.  When does Magic Study get here?  If it's longer than two days I'm reordering the book on my Kindle.  I can't wait much longer to finally get my hands on Book Two...

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Grisha Series by Leigh Barduho
Gracling by Kristen Cashore
Touch/Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Happy Reading



pepsivanilla said...

I love this series, and Valek, so much! Just reading your review has me itching for a reread :)

yaescapefromreality said...

I love Maria V. Snyder too, I've read all of her series but The Study series is my favorite (I think). Did you know she's continuing the series (I think there's going to end up being six books). Yay!