July 1, 2009

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4/5 – great read!

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Yelena has been tried and found guilty of murder. Just as she is about to be executed, she is offered a choice—to be executed, or to be Commander Ambrose’s new food taster.

“A fool would refuse the job.”

The thing about being the Commander’s food taster is this: (all possible threats on his life aside) it’s a lifetime position and the training alone can be lethal. As the title would suggest, Yelena chooses to be the food taster and thus begins her crash course in poison detection. In an effort to keep the (formerly on death row) food tasters from escaping, Valek, the Commander’s personal security chief, gives them a poison that requires a daily antidote to stay alive.

Despite her inability to escape, Yelena is given a small measure of freedom and is able to settle into her new life and even make friends. However, she must avoid Brazell—the father of the man she murdered. Brazell is so desperate to have her killed; he will stop at nothing to see her dead.
As the novel progresses, we see pieces of Yelena’s memories and the demons that haunt her. We come to understand her character—her complicated past and why she was awaiting execution in the first place. Snyder’s writing flows so naturally and so beautifully that it makes this book a pleasure to read. Throw in some fun, likeable characters, a little magic and mayhem and you have yourself a book that (not only will you want to clear your schedule to read) will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page!

Even though I found the plot to be somewhat predictable, I was too engaged in the story to care. This book kept a good pace, what with the political intrigue, danger, magic, suspense, and subtle romance.

Maria V. Snyder starts the series (and her career) off on the right foot with her debut novel, Poison Study. Her elegant descriptions really make the pages come alive—I could almost smell the food, taste the poison, and feel Yelena’s turmoil.

I was absolutely fascinated with this story and its characters; especially the strong and witty heroine!

If you haven’t already read this book, I would suggest you try it out.

FYI, This story continues with Magic Study and Fire Study.

Happy Reading!