Poison Study by Maria V. SnyderPoison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by MIRA on March 1st, 2007
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 409

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...

(First published in 2005 by Luna Books)

5 Stars

Published over ten years ago and widely read by young adult readers all over the world, Poison Study is an imaginative YA fantasy with a strong heroine, a gripping plot, and a slow burn romance.

“To Yelena, our newest food taster. May you last longer than your predecessor.”

Yelena is a heroine to root for. Physically weak but mentally strong – or as Valek would say, “Delicate in appearance, but with a strength unnoticed at first glance” – she will win your hearts as she wades through thick webs of intrigue, on a discovery of enemies, magic, and herself. Yelena undergoes a wonderful character development, and she’s without a doubt one of my favourite YA fantasy heroines. Valek, on the other hand, is tough, loyal, and knows his place at the side of the Commander, ruler of Ixia. He’s not one of those lame male leads who will drop all his duties and responsibilities and bend his backbone for a pretty girl. Ari and Janco, a set of loud-mouthed troublemakers, are precious cinnamon rolls and basically the best pair of friends a fictional character could ever want at their side. They are witty, considerate, and loyal to a fault. I enjoyed the characters’ interactions, banters, and growing friendships tremendously.

What first drew me in was the original concept of Poison Study. The storyline of a criminal to be executed becoming a food taster and being controlled with slow doses of poison is absolutely mind-blowing. What further increased my enjoyment of the book – aside from the characters – was the plot which had me hooked from the start with a slow but steady increase of suspense. I flew through Poison Study in one sitting. This fantasy contains one of the best romantic subplots I’ve ever read, in that it was magnificently slow burn. I didn’t give two fucks about the age difference between the lead characters (mainly because I had completely forgotten Valek’s age due to his overall hotness), as their relationship is founded on mutual respect and understanding, and honestly, what more could you possibly wish for in a romance? I was, however, surprised by the story’s darker sides as well. Snyder broaches serious topics such as inequalities between the genders and dark ones such as torture and sexual abuse.

“What have I earned from you, Valek? Loyalty? Respect? Trust?”
“You have my attention. But give me what I want, and you can have everything.”

If there is anything at all that slightly dampened my excitement, it was the writing. Although I quickly got used to it, her writing style comes across as distant and void of emotion sometimes, but I managed to establish a connection to the story and its characters nevertheless.

Overall, Poison Study is a delightful read I would whole-heartedly recommend to fantasy lovers, magic fanatics, and for all of you who enjoy a plot well balanced between action, development, and romance.