★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Poison Study is one of the best young-adult books out there and easily one of my favorites. While this review is focused on the first book, titled Poison Study, I would recommend the entire Chronicles of Ixia series, which includes the Soulfinders series. If there is just one recommendation I can give you, it would be this because, truthfully, I did not know if I would like it–at the time I wasn’t reading fantasy, it was new to me–but it’s been a year since I’ve read Poison Study and it is still one of the only books that I talk about frequently because I fell in love with the world and characters that Snyder created, so I thought it was time to write a review–which was difficult because it’s easier for me to discuss the book than it is to write about it. In person, I’ll just ramble on about everything that made Poison Study the only series I’ve ever finished and every reason why you should be reading it. It was one hell of an introduction to fantasy, that I will definitely say.
It begins with our young female protagonist, Yelena, who is awaiting execution for killing a man in the Commander’s dungeons when she is given a choice. She can follow through with her execution or become the new food taster for the Commander. She chooses to become a food taster, but the chief of security, Valek, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust, and the only way to prevent an agonizing death is to report to him for her daily antidote to delay the poison. Life in Ixia begins to unravel when Yelena develops magical powers that she can’t control as rebels plot to seize Ixia.
I loved this book. The characters, world-building, and plot were crafted brilliantly to create a world that was shown to the reader through Yelena’s eyes. I do not typically read books in first perspective because I prefer third person POV, but Yelena is a character you grow even fonder of throughout the story and become invested in. She is witty, intelligent, calculated, and an all-around badass that I never once got annoyed or tired of, and has an inspiring transformation by the end of the novel. I feel like we could all use to have a little bit of Yelena in our personalities because she is such an admirable character.
Then there is Valek, who is this cruel character that does not have one redeeming quality but has a whole lot of mystery surrounding him–let’s be honest, I disliked him the moment he gave Yelena Butterfly Dust, but damn, did he grow on me. The relationship that develops between Valek and Yelena was one that I didn’t care for in the beginning because of the obvious, but eventually I rooted for them because it wasn’t the sole focus of the story and they work really well together–it’s one of the first times I did not get frustrated with a romance because of how well written it was. Valek is definitely someone that has multiple layers and there are reasons for why he is such a complex individual in the series.
It’s a dark story with violence and assault, so there are some who would rather not read because of some of the things that take place, which is understandable, but there is so much more to the story than that. This is one of the underrated books in my opinion that needs to be discussed, reviewed, and shared. It’s a fantasy novel with a lot of action and a beautifully crafted romance between the relatable and smart heroine and mysterious and sometimes questionable assassin. The world isn’t told to you, it’s shown through Yelena’s very observant perspective, and as a reader, you become invested in so much–at least I did. The narrative is sometimes dry, always straight-to-the-point, and the plot stayed focused without straying too far with many sub-plots, which made it more enjoyable.
I did not know if I would like this, let alone be able to finish it, but I absolutely loved it. I only have one book left in the series to read, and I can honestly say I’m a little (maybe a lot) heartbroken to see the story come to an end, but it’s been quite the journey with magic, assassins, love, poison, politics, and without a doubt (for the first time ever) I will going back to reread a book. So again, if there is only one recommendation I can give you, it’s to pick up a copy of Poison Study.
You can tell when a book is a favorite of mine because what I’ve dubbed a blog for short, brief reviews that get you back to reading, just became a 6 paragraph review.
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.
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…
Paperback, 409 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Mira