Your Pick for Nik! – September’s Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

psTitle: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Series: Study #1

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Rating: 4/5 stars!

The Overview: 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…


The Review:

From the the very first page, I was hooked. Not only did it begin at a pivotal time in the character’s life, but it also set the stage for a story with endless possibilities for character growth and story development.

Story: My favorite part of the book has to be the ideas behind the basic storyline. Throughout the book, I especially liked how the main character was either learning news skill or showcasing ones she already had. It gave off the same “learning environment” feel you’d get from books that take place in schools (and you all know how much I love school settings). What’s more, the character learned a trade you don’t encounter often in our world – poisons! It was fascinating, and I love feeling like I learned it along with her.

What’s great about this book is that it has multi-genre appeal. The company I work for categorizes it in romance, but it could easily find a home in either the teen section (15+) or fantasy. Because of this, I feel like I could recommend it to a wide range of customers, and that always makes me happy!

Another element of story I think a lot of readers would like is the slow-building relationships and love story. They all felt incredibly organic – again leaving lots of room for growth in the future.

Character: Yelena Is a “take no crap” protagonists who speaks her mind and follows her heart. She is the type of character that’s highly likable because she represents a lot of characteristics most of us wish we had. Not only is she brave enough to stand up for her convictions, she is also incredibly smart and loyal. I love her fire and I love her spirit!

I think it’s safe to say that Yelena stole the show – she was such a strong and dynamic chick that all other characters sort of faded into the background for most of the book. The good news is, that was really only an issue for the first half of the book, and Yelena’s story was more than compelling enough to carry the story until then. Considering it’s a full trilogy, I think there are plenty of side character exploration yet to come.

Writing: Snyder did a great job organizing – revealing just enough information to tell the story and strengthen character, while leaving enough mystery shrouding Yelena’s past (and everybody else’s, for that matter) to keep me turning the pages. She also used several “hooks” at the end of each section, which often had me saying “just one more chapter…”

She also used one of my all time favorite writing tools – when two characters are forced together into small quarters by an outside influence. It creates a great atmosphere where the characters are forced to interact with one another, and it especially works well in furthering a romantic spark. The way it was done here was so subtle that I am most missed it, but it immediately got me excited for where the story could go (not that I wasn’t already hooked).

Finally, I love the voice Snyder used to tell the story. It was incredibly understated (in a good way), letting the focus reside entirely on her main character. It was highly effective at drawing me in, and I imagine it would do the same for most readers.

World Building: The world building was definitely present, but a little low key. You could tell the author has a full magic system and world developed based on everything she alluded to, but she definitely didn’t bring it to its full potential in this first book. This is the only thing that I hope to see improvement on in book two – and I honestly don’t think she’ll let me down. She has a lot of groundwork set for something really amazing.

Overall, this was a fantastic book and I’m thrilled it was chosen for book club. It had been collecting dust on my shelf for over five years and I am seriously kicking myself for not having picked it up sooner! The best news: based on the direction this one took, I am expecting the second book to be just as good, if not better!

Recommended Reading: for anyone wanting great fantasy entertainment with a slow-developing love story!

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

Discussion Time!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Yelena, hands-down. She is just one of those strong female protagonists that you wish you could be, and I love how unabashed she is when fighting for something she believes in.

What was your favorite part of the book?

The opening! it was one of the best starts to a book that I’ve ever read, and set the tone for one killer story!

Which would you rather learn: poison study, acrobatics, dueling, magic, for self-defense?

I know it was unfair adding magic to the list because who wouldn’t want to learn Magic? Obviously that’s my number one, but my number two is acrobatics – I’ve always admired gymnasts!

The questions are meant to generate conversation, so feel free to answer any or all in the comments area. If you also wrote a review for Poison Study, let me know and I will add a personalized link in this review. 

For more information on this book club feature, click here.