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Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Choose: A quick death or slow poison …

On the eve of her execution for murder, Yelena Zaltana is offered an incredible reprieve – on the condition that she becomes the food taster for the military leader of Ixia, Commander Ambrose.

Avoiding poison is the least of her troubles, however … General Brazell, father of the man she killed, has vowed bloody revenge; she’s beginning to have feelings for her captor, Valek; and someone is plotting the downfall of the current regime.

In a desperate race against time, Yelena must learn to control the growing magical talent withinn her and master the demons of her past. The Commander’s life, the future of Ixia and all those she loves depend on it …

Firstly, I loved this book. However, when I finished the book I couldn’t really figure out WHY it has been marketed as YA. It features a not so young-adult protagonist, deals with rape and brutality, violence as a means of defence and and features a very complicated romance. It has none of the markers of traditional young adult fantasy, and yet, it has been marketed that way. This is really the only problem I have with the book – everything else is amazing.

The characters in Poison Study are captivating – they have lots of layers and complex relationships that come to light over the course of the story. Yelena is incredibly strong willed and tenacious, and the mystery that surrounds her past intrigues me. My initial impression of Valek was that of an unthinking henchman, but he is revealed to be much more. He eventually became my favourite character – especially because a lot of the humour in the book came from him as well as Yelena.

While simple, the plot of Poison Study is enjoyable. There are some twists that are immediately obvious, but others that take the reader completely by surprise. One of the best aspects of the book is the writing. Maria V. Snyder shows she has complete mastery over her intricate story by telling it using deceptively simple techniques.

While I had been wanting to dip my toes into the works of Maria V. Snyder for a while, I had not anticipated to enjoy Poison Study as much as I did. It was wonderful for me to read some YA in the vein of more traditional fantasy, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Study series. If you love fantasy, you should check it out!

About the book:

  • Date published: 01 July 2009
  • Publisher: Mira Books
  • Format: Paperback, 361 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9781741167689 ISBN 10: 174116768X
  • Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Goodreads / The Book Depository

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