"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

24 January 2013

Review: Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

(Amazon UK) (Goodreads)

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

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 of Poison Study (5*):

Wow I was not expecting that! Poison Study was a magical fantasy novel that sucked me in and held my attention on each and every page. It was a dramatic tale of bravery, loyalty, adventure and on the edge of your seat drama. The book constantly kept me on my toes. Danger, intrigue and numerous surprises lurked on every corner waiting to ambush the unsuspecting reader with an array of emotions; shock, fear, sadness and excitement. The plot was dramatic from start to finish and had me completely captivated with its adventurous storyline, vivid characterisation and realistic setting. Snyder successfully creates a fantastical, magical and exhilarating narrative.   

The fantasy world of Ixia was brilliantly depicted, with a regimental and rigid ruling system. Magic has been outlawed and everyone serves a purpose in the political and social structure of Ixia, creating a militaristic and strict setting. The world that we see in the story doesn’t really stretch far, from the intrigue ridden dark passages of the castle to the leafy treetops of the forest. Not much of Ixia is revealed to us or Sitia, the southern realm where magic is accepted but hopefully more of the world will be exposed in the next book helping to develop the characters and story in more depth. I love fantasy worlds so I'm looking forward to seeing the world in more depth in the next book.

The plotline was so dramatic and I was completely swept up as the story moved along. There was some shocking revelations throughout the novel that had me utterly gripped and surprised. It is full to the brim with fascinating twists and turns, betrayal, secrets, lies and intrigue and shocked me with some disturbing and haunting events. The story has a darker, more twisted side with Yelaena’s grief stricken past full of heartache and pain, and further along in the novel there are some chilling scenes that really sent a shiver down my spine. Some dark and haunting stuff happened along with some disturbing villainous events and characters. There was drama after drama, thrilling event after thrilling event that made the reading experience utterly exciting, vivid and engrossing.

The individuals in the novel were so varied, so full of depth, complexity and character that they were easy to empathise with, be disgusted with and be surprised by. Our female protagonist, Yelaena, was a strong willed, feisty and intelligent individual with a troubled past who believes that her time is up. Awaiting her execution in a dark, damp and squalid prison, her life is turned upside down when she is given a second chance; her life will be spared if she agrees to become the Commanders official food taster. Not that it would an easy job with the possibility of assassination lurking at the bottom of a poisoned bottle or in one sip of a deadly brew. Escape is also out of the question. Her past comes back to haunt her numerous times, her life is threatened at every corner and a deadly poison flows through her veins, the only antidote in the hands of Valek. I loved Yelaena. Her mischievous, spirited and passionate attitude was extremely fun to read about and her journey throughout the novel was both exciting and inspirational.

Valek was definitely another one of my favourite characters. The Commanders chief of security and secret assassin, Valek came across first as a ruthless, coldhearted and calculating individual, a killer without a conscious. Dangerous and merciless, another side to his characters becomes evident as the story progressed. His protective and caring side breaks through his brutal and tough exterior at times throughout the novel. I loved his character and can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. More Valek please!

The other characters were great; Commander Ambrose, Rand, Ari and Janco etc. Through Yelaena’s first person narrative we come to love, hate and care for the characters through their treatment of her, past and present. We learn of their desires, horrible past deeds, secrets and lies throughout the story. Snyder's characters were excellently developed and I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop in the next book, especially our protagonist Yelaena.

Poison Study blew me away. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, and it completely exceeded my expectations. With well fleshed out characters, an utterly dramatic storyline and a magical fantasy setting I was instantly sucked into Yelaena’s world. Fast paced and thrilling, Poison Study took me on an epic journey that left me wanting more. I need my fix of Yelaena, Valek and co again soon and will definitely, definitely be picking up the next book to see what lies in store for these fascinating characters. 


  1. I read this one about two years ago and loved it! I still have to read the other books in the series but they are on my tbr list for this year. Great review :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. New to me but the review made it very intriguing, I love characters full of depth. Keeps the story interesting!

  3. I love this series! This is the book that really made me a fan of Maria Snyder and her writing, and I've made a point of reading pretty much all her series since! Valek is one of my favorite characters ever, he's wonderful and I love his relationship with Yelena. Great review, thanks!

  4. I NEED to read this! Amazing review. I haven't read anything about Maria Snyder, so I'm excited to start this :)

  5. I read and reviewed this a while ago and enjoyed it. I'll be interested to see what you think of the second and third books - the second lost my attention, and I still haven't gotten around to reading the third...

    Rose @ www.thecosydragon.com


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