Source: purchased (e-book).
Genre: YA fantasy.
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… (Goodreads.)
My rating: a slightly shaky 4/5.
Now, about this book. I have a confession to make first: I would have enjoyed this much more if I hadn’t read Throne of Glass first. The “sentenced to death but given another chance at freedom” plotline along with a slightly worrying romance (Stockholm syndrome, anyone?): it just felt too similar. But let me be clear: Poison Study was published before Throne of Glass, I just got to them in the wrong order.
But if we put this issue aside, Poison Study has much to recommend. I really liked Yelena (all the names have a vaguely Slavic tone to them; I knew a Jelena in school and Janko is our version of Hansel) and her will to survive despite the shitty hand the fate dealt her. I liked that she made friends even though she knew she was a tragedy in the making, and was open to genuine feelings even if her past left her wary of male “affection”. I could have done with less brutality (especially the rape part – Maggie Stiefvater has a good point on this), but I understand what Snyder was trying to do.
What I liked most about this novel were the secondary characters, I think. The Commander is very interesting, Janco and Ari are a great pair (Or a couple?), and Rand was just three-dimensional enough to be very believable.
Valek, the assassin, sometimes got on my nerves with his wooden demeanor, but that’s just how he is, and I think it’s actually great that the love interest doesn’t have a bunch of starry-eyed women trailing after him because he’s so gorgeous. It makes him much more human.
The magic system wasn’t really detailed, mostly because Yelena doesn’t know anything about it and is just beginning to realize how everything works. I read this as an e-book which was unfortunate because there’s a map of the world at the beginning, which I glanced at when I started reading the book, but didn’t have the patience to click back to once the story really got going. Also, my old Kindle is kind of crappy with graphics, so it wasn’t very easy to read the map in the first place. But this didn’t really bother me too much, it’s just an observation. (This must happen a lot with books with maps… I just never noticed it before because I often buy physical copies of fantasy novels – or my husband does, and he prefers paperbacks to e-books.)
In short, this is a really cool YA fantasy with loveable side characters, but I do hope it goes in a very different direction from Throne of Glass from now on.
Have you read Poison Study? Did you like it?
Do you like your heroes swoon-worthy or do you prefer the weird ones?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! :)