Author: Maria V. Snyder
Date of Publication: June 1, 2004
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, E-book
Buy This Book: Amazon
Synopsis: 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...
This has been the summer of re-reads and Poison Study has been one that I've anticipated reading again for months now. I remember absolutely adoring this novel the first time I read it and I was confident that I would love this novel just as much the second time. I was one hundred percent right. I loved this novel even more the second time around than I think I did the first time and even though Snyder's writing is straight forward and plain the depth of this story runs much deeper than the words on the page.
The best thing about Poison Study is the fantastic world building. The amount of detail Snyder put into the different poisons as well as the fantasy world Yelena lives in was absolutely amazing. When we first get introduced to Yelena she is a prisoner in a dank dungeon headed for execution, as the novel goes on and we learn not only more about what happened to her but about her origins and her ability with magic. There were so many layers to this story from the obvious story line involving Yelena and her position as a food taster to the more subtle idea that Yelena believes she doesn't have a soul.
One of the things that make this book so amazing to read is the originality that went into creating the plot. With a huge range of poisons, Yelena's horrible past, the codes that govern the country, magic, plus tons of other quirks this novel is full of new ideas and fresh angles on old ones. Snyder's writing is absolutely amazing for the kind of story she is telling and it was refreshing to read a fantasy type novel written without the flowery language. Although there's a time and place for embellished writing Snyder's straight forward prose brings this novel together in a way that flowery language wouldn't.
Another thing I adored about this novel was the characters. Yelena's position makes her fascinating to read about and Valek's calm and calculated personality makes me wonder what he's thinking underneath that mask. I absolutely loved both Yelena and Valek but I felt like their romance moved a little fast at the end of the novel. Snyder spent a huge amount of the novel building up their relationship and I felt like the romance at the end gave them feelings that weren't quite there yet. Regardless I adore them and their relationship, the subtlety Snyder puts into building up their romance had me on the edge of my seat and when everything finally came together I was thrilled even though it felt just a little on the fast side.
Poison Study is one of those novels that, even though it's on the old side, will forever be one of my favorites. I highly encourage anyone who hasn't read this one yet to hurry up and get their hands on a copy, this one will not disappoint!