Saturday, January 1, 2011

Poison Study

Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder
416 pages
Rating: 4/5
Yelena, convicted of murdering the son of a powerful general, awaits execution. But with only a few hours left, she is offered an incredible reprieve -- and agrees to become the new food taster for Commander Ambrose, the military leader of Ixia. Living in a palace and eating only the best meals is a dramatic change for Yelena, who spent the last year locked up in a rat-infested dungeon, eating gruel. But she soon realizes that she has more to worry about than ingesting potentially lethal poisons in the commander's meals. The general whose son she murdered has vowed bloody vengeance, and everyone in the commander's retinue look at Yelena as an untrustworthy criminal. The longer she stays alive, however, the more she begins to understand her own perplexing abilities -- all of which will be put to the test when cunning rebels plot to take control of Ixia.

While many genre-blending novels seem to unintentionally dilute the literary domains involved, Poison Study is both a riveting romance and a spellbinding fantasy. The richly historied and vividly described realm that Snyder has created is completely convincing and large enough to encompass (hopefully) many more novels featuring Yelena, an enigmatic heroine with so many secrets and so much promise. Paul Goat Allen (taken from Barnes and Noble)

My Thoughts:
I couldn't believe it when I read that this was Maria V. Snyder's debut novel.  I was doing a bit of research before writing this review, as it's been a couple of weeks since I read it, and I was so shocked to find that bit of news.  I found her book astoundingly awesome, especially as it was a debut novel.  Normally, I'll give just a little bit of leaway if it's a debut novel, as it's the first - sometimes it takes a bit of practice to make perfect.  But Ms. Snyder blew me away.

Upon reading Poison Study, you are entered into the world of Ixia.  I love that Ms Snyder did not particularly make it seem like a completely different fantasy world.  It had enough "normal" elements that I was not confused or frustrated by the increasingly complicated world of fantasy.  Instead, she added bits and pieces of Ixia's history while telling the story; and before I knew it, I could have given a history lesson on the territory of Ixia while I didn't even realize I was learning about it.  I greatly appreciate an author's ability to create a fantasy world/story without having everything be complicated and different. 

I loved Yelena as a character.  I felt her need to simply survive, and I enjoyed watching her grow to remember how to live again (after being condemned to execution, survive is excitement, living is compete utter happiness).  As she gets to know the characters around the castle, I fell in love with her circle of friends and questioned the different friends and intentions just as she did.  Though I did not connect with her, as in we are similar, I loved getting to know her as a character.  And when things come to light, I felt her pain, hurt, disappointment, happiness, and love just as if we were best friends.

I feel that I should probably include a bit of a warning in a review as well.  Ms. Snyder has taken a beautiful fantasy and woven some serious subject matters into it as well.  She has an incredible ability to write of such matters, and those who are faint of heart should beware that you will get to know on some level the effects of abuse and evil.  That being said, I would take caution to recommend this novel to a younger generation.   It was shelved at my library under adult fiction, and I believe that though the fantasy can appeal to youth, it will also be entertaining for adults as well.  Include the seriousness, and it makes a believable, moving story for both adults and mature youth to read.

This novel included so many different elements: fantasy, action, humor, and romance.  Each part seemed equally balanced, and I love it.  I loved the side-romance story, especially since it was not super gushy, cutesy, and overrated.  It was just perfect for the novel  Ultimately, I would recommend this book to anyone who even slightly enjoys fantasy.  It's become one of my favorites, and I can't wait to pick up Magic Study.  I have added every one of Ms. Snyder's books to my TBR list, and I am so excited to have found a new favorite author!

This book was recommended to me by Katelyn at The Bookshelf Sophisticate.  Jump over to her blog and read her review of Poison Study as well.


  1. I haven't read this series yet but have heard good things about it. I'll have to put it at least on my wishlist now and hope I'll be able to read it this year.

  2. Interesting review. I have checked the excerpt and found out that the author did a lot of researched for a food taster. No wonder she could write about the main character well :)

    I have searched this book in Amazon and they gave me different cover. Nice