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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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.

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 . . .

Holly Says:

Before I go into my review, I just want to say...isn't that cover amazing? I think it's beautiful.

I first read about this book on Samantha's blog and I was intrigued by it. Her review made me anxious to read it, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest by it.

Poison Study is the first person tale of Yelena, a woman sentenced to death for murdering the son of a high ranking General in Ixia (North). On the day she's to be executed, she's brought before The Commander's first in command, Valek, to confess her crimes. Instead, Valek offers her the position of food taster for the Commander. She's put on the spot: Die now, or possibly die later by poison. She chooses the possible poison. Yelena says that only a fool wouldn't accept, and that she is no fool.

The training of a food taster really surprised me. She was forced to sample a lot of different poisons so that she could recognize them in the Commander's meals, some of which leave her so ill she's incoherent for days. And if she survives her training, there's a good possibility she won't survive a plot to murder the Commander.

As Yelena finds out more and more about what's going on around her the entire picture changes, and she's forced to look deep inside herself for strength she isn't sure she possesses. Not only that, but a traitorous plot is revealed and Yelena seems to be right in the middle of it. Plus, the General whose son she murdered isn't happy to wait around and see if she dies by poison.

As the story develops, and I was shown more and more of Yelena's world, I was completely drawn in. And just when I thought I'd figured out what was going on, a new revelation would occur and I'd have to review everything I thought I knew about the story and characters. It truly made me think, which doesn't happen that often.

I also have to tell you that the romance was just an added bonus. When I first started reading, I didn't even think this was a romance novel. But as I watched Yelena fall in love (no, I won't tell you who with, read it and find out for yourselves), I was pleasantly surprised!

I truly admired the way MVS brought in new characters, as well. Though there are several by the end of the book, they were introduced gradually and I never felt overwhelmed or like there was too much going on at once. There was also a magical element to this story that I didn't expect, but which, I felt, was also an added bonus.

Overall I was extremely impressed. So much so that I immediately ordered the second installment, Magic Study.

As a first novel, I'd say Maria V. Snyder certainly left her mark. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from MVS in the future.

4.75 out of 5 ( I didn't give it a full 5 stars because I had no idea it was the first book in a trilogy)

Poison Study
Magic Study

Isabel's Turn

I enjoyed this book. I started it last night and finished this morning. Because I had know what was going to happen. Would romance blossom between her and certain someone? What was criollo? A drug. I had to know.

I thought it was interesting how she went through the training to become a food tasters. Tasting the different poisons. The most deadly making her ill for a couple of days. The staff would bet on if Yelena would survive or not.

I liked her friendships with Ari and Janco. Loved how protective they were of her. They taught her to trained her to fight. When she became ill from tasting poison, they took turns watching her. It was very sweet.

There isn't a whole lot of romance, but you can feel it building it up. The twists and turns of the plot were also good and kept me guessing. I can't wait for Magic Study, the sequel to Poison Study to come out in paperback.

Grade: A-

Dylan's Turn:

Hero: Valek
Heroine: Yelena
Category: Paranormal
Grade: B+

So Yelena is up for execution because she killed a man. Before she is executed, she's offered a job as The Commander's Food Taster, she has to taste his food to make sure there aren't any poisons that would kill the Commander. She has to become an expert on poisons and Valek takes her under his wing and trains her in the art of poison. She proves herself time and time again to him and the book ends with me hoping to read more in the second book, Magic Study.

I liked this book a lot. I loved seeing Yelena's character grow in self confidence as the book wore on. I loved watching her stand up for herself and not having anyone fight her battles for her. I loved the friendship that blossomed between her, Janco and Ari. It was genuine and I enjoyed it. I loved how her relationship with Valek progressed throughout the entire story. They went from being very wary of each other to missing one another and then to loving each other. That was great, I got all giddy when Valek told Yelena that he was having criollo sent up to our room...hehe, it was great! The characters were great, the storyline was fantastic and all the espionage and spy stuff had me guessing right up until the last page.

Great stuff!

What I didn't like about the book was that it took a long time for the story to take off. It was slow to start for me but I'm glad I stuck with it. Another thing was Valek's tests, that man would drive me up the wall, though I thought he was a sexy man with his fierceness in the battlefield. All the tests he put everyone through and how he was so complex, it had me secondguessing him throughout the whole book...that could be a good thing, keeping me on my toes but it annoyed me some in the book. Aside from the slow start and the constant tests, I loved it!

I would totally recommend this book to anyone, it's great stuff, I promise!

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Blogger Anne said...

I enjoyed this book as well. Though to me it started out a tad slow, it picked up and turned into much more than I ever imagined. And the fact that it was first person and I didn't want to feed the book to my dogs, is a rarity indeed. Great review. : )

February 10, 2007 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Marg said...

I read these books a while ago now and thought they were really, really good. I am looking forward to the third book...when it comes out!

February 10, 2007 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

Every review I have read about this book has gotten high scores.

However, Holly, you are the first one to actually make me want to read it.

As soon as I am done with my current TBR pile, I'll purchase Poison Study.

February 10, 2007 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Anne, for years I hated first person, but I've been lucky to find several in the last year or so that have changed my opinion. It won't ever be my favorite, but stories like this have proven that first person can be just as good, if not better, than third.

I want the third installment as well. It's scheduled to be released in March..of 2008. Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall.

What a perfectly lovely thing to say. What's funny is that I hate the review I did for this book (and most others, for that matter) because I don't feel I adequately expressed my feelings on it. Glad to know I was able to get you to want it.

February 10, 2007 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

We are always our own worst critic. :)

P.s, I enjoy first person.

February 11, 2007 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I love these books and can't wait for the next one (a year away). But they are re-releasing these with new covers (in trade size I think) soon because she switched publishers.

February 11, 2007 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

I had no idea she'd switched publishers. I hope it doesn't affect the quality of writing at all.

February 11, 2007 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Dylan aka Rowena said...

I'm reading this book right now, so I'll review it soon...I'm not going to boost it up though, I'm just going to add my thoughts and discuss it through emails with you two..but so far, it's good, not FANTASTIC but there's still time for me to change my mind about it! ;)

February 14, 2007 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Kate D. said...

Ye gods, how I love this book! It's like the Russian Revolution with sex and magic... oh, and a poison culture that would make the Medicis weep with jealousy.

Can't wait to read Magic Study...

February 15, 2007 at 8:37 PM  
Anonymous angiez said...

This story will end up as one of my favorites for this year. I actually listened to the audio version and now have Magic Study on Audio. My daughter goes to college about an hour and half away and in the fall I would go up once or twice a week to catch her soccer games and this story made the trip a snap. I would find myself sitting in the car in front of the house when I got home from a trip, just so I find a good place to end.

February 20, 2007 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Kate, I totally agree. It was Fab. Magic Study was just as good, too.

Welcome to our blog (if I haven't welcomed you already). I looked at your site. Very nice. You do great reviews.

This was my #1 read for 2006.

February 21, 2007 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth123 said...

Maria Snyder is an amazing author. She had me captured in from cover to cover in her books, never wanting to put them down. Her characters are realistic with flaws while the setting and plot are fantasical. Both Poison Study and Magic Study are filled with action and excitement. With every turn of the page new magic is revealed. Maria Snyder is a captivating author. You wont want to miss these books nor will you want to miss out on the excitement of her upcoming novel Fire Study.

November 24, 2007 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay said...

Poison Study is an addicting novel featuring magic, food-tasting, love and of course poison.
Yelena is about to be executed for murder when she is offered a reprieve but at a price. The commander needs a new food-taster and she can either choose death or the risk of assassination by anyone who wants the Commander dead. Yelena chooses to become the Commander's new food taster.
But the chief of security deliberately gives her Butterfly's Dust and to live Yelena has to show up daily for her antidote or suffer an agonising death from this poison.
Snyder does a fantastic job of getting the reader to associate with Yelena in her struggle to live. She does it so well that the reader is addicted right from the start and you'll end up reading the entire book in one night.
The next book in the series is Magic Study which is twice as good and twice as addicting as Poison Study.
The third in the series is Fire Study which is set to come out in March and i'm annoyingly excited to read the next great novel by Maria V. Snyder.

November 28, 2007 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Chatterbee said...

I loved Poison Study- it had well-written characters and an excellent plot. I particularly enjoyed the author's descriptions of food tasting. As soon as I put this book down I immediately read Magic Study, which was another excellent tale filled with suspense and action. I can't wait till the third book comes out in March.

January 30, 2008 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous hobo2bobo said...

I just bought it - and read it - tonight. I have to agree that it did start slow and although it was a well developed book I didn't love it. Recommend it as a 'library loan' book, but I wouldn't suggest shelling out $20 CAD for it, like I did. XD

December 7, 2008 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Yeah, I really enjoyed this book but I haven't reread the book but I'll tell you that I did really like Magic Study a whole lot more than I liked this one. So it gets better! =)

December 8, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

February 21, 2010 at 1:11 AM  

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