Review: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Publisher: Mira Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 409 (Paperback)
Source: Gifted
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...
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Several months ago with Christmas fast approaching, I received an e-mail from the amazing Tynga of Tynga's Reviews saying that she wanted to gift all of the girls a book as a thank you for helping out with her blog. She said give me 3 books you want and she would surprise us. Well, POISON STUDY was one of the books on my list and within seconds of sending it to her she said, "I'm getting you Poison Study. I loved it so much I got it for my mother and I swear you'll love it too." Well, T was right (just as she always is). This book was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Admittedly, it got off to a slightly slow start. As interesting as it was, it was hard to adjust to. I began reading it just as I began facing a nasty sickness. As my health declined, my desire to read declined as well. It's been a week since I got over that sickness that had lasted a little over 2 weeks, and now that my desire to read is back I devoured this book at a lightning fast peed. Maria V. Snyder knows how to tell an amazing story that keeps us wanting more. Full of mystery, a growing romance, and intrigue, I could not put it down.

Yelena is one of the bravest heroines I have come across in a while. We meet her in the beginning of the book when she was sent to the Commander's dungeon for execution after committing the crime of murder against Reyad, the son of General Brazell. Brazell was kind enough to adopt her as a young child and orphan, but he made her face horrible experiments in his own home carried out by himself and his son in order to live there. One of the older girls, she quickly became the protector of the younger children in the orphanage, so her decision to murder the son of her generous father figure rocked Ixia. However, she is given a last chance effort to save herself by Valek, the Commander's loyal assassin. Slightly older than she, he is incredibly powerful in his art. He allows her to become the Commander's new food-taster and trains her in the art of detecting poison. However, with the help of magical leader from southern Sitia, Yelena realizes that she possesses magic that can cause great disasters in Ixia if left untrained. But how can she train in a place where magicians were immediately put to death according to the Code of Behavior? Does this plot not sound absolutely amazing?

 Couple that with possibly the best cast of secondary characters that I have ever met and some truly wicked villains and this story was so beautifully characterized that I am dying for book two. One of the most interesting characters in this story was Valek. Valek was hard to figure out. He is dedicated entirely to Commander Ambrose's protection, but he feels a certain level of protection toward Yelena too. Most people in the castle attribute this to the fact that Yelena was the first female tester ever, and the fact that many people were attempting to murder someone that was employed by Commander Ambrose. He was hard to figure out, but one of the best characters I have come across in a while. I also really enjoyed Ari and Janco. Affectionately referred to as the power twins, they're two soldiers who excelled in the Commander's army. Now Captains, they have a soft side for Yelena and help her learn to protect herself. They're scary men with the hearts of teddy bears and they provide some comic relief to the story. Other workers in the castle provide great friendships and maternal ways to Yelena, but they may be harboring some secrets of their own. And as the villainous scheme that could disrupt order in all of Ixia comes to light, you will be totally shocked with everyone's involvement.

The world-building was astonishing as well. Ixia was split up into many military districts that all had different purposes. MD-5 dealt with livestock while another may deal with weaving. And each military district had a General who worked under the Commander to keep order in their part of Ixia. Commander Ambrose's successor was among the Generals, so it was not rare that they were suspicious of one another and in constant competition.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the romance. It's slow-moving and more or less a sub-plot of the story. It does not truly come to light until over half way through the novel, thus it allow us to focus on the amazingly twisted and complicated tale that Snyder wrote for us. However, the romance was very sweet and realistic. It's easy to find yourself as a reader rooting for the two characters because they are so believable and passionate. Who are the two characters? Well, you'll just have to read to find out! That's part of the delicious plot.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantasy story with complicated twists. While this will satisfy any romance lover, the romance is not a main point of the story and should not be read because of it. In reality, the romance is just an added benefit that can easily be adored. This book is a must read.

Warning to parents: this book is not for younger teens. There are instances of torture, many threats, many deaths, and the mention of rape. I would say 14+ would be okay.

5 stars



  1. I don't think I've heard of this book! This sounds really good and something right up my alley. LOVE a strong, especially brave heroine, and a great fantasy world. I'll definitely have to look check this one out, your review was really helpful! :)

  2. I have this book in paperback! Guess I need to read it! Thanks for the great review!

  3. This book is amazing! I loved Yelena, the over all feeling/image I get of the book (a castle, poison, Valek and Yelena & maybe the commander in the background and gray), Valek, the plot, the poison taster part, the characters, and just about everything! I think I would go out and buy any of MVS's books. She's sooo talented! Just finished Magic was just as good :D

  4. I totally want to read this series once I finish her Healer Series. I adored Touch of Power and loved Maria's writing style. Great review!

  5. Ohmigosh! This sounds amazing! I haven't read anything by the author before but I may just have to make this the first book of hers that I read because it really does sound super awesome. So glad you liked it! :)