Sunday, 3 April 2011

Poison Study

This is a book I picked up randomly at my local bookshop. I just liked what it said on the back cover and bought it. And then put off reading it for no reason whatsoever... I got round to it eventually, so here is the review.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
First published by Mira Books in 2005 (this edition by Mira Books in 2007)

Book #1 in the Study series

Description: (from back cover)
Yelena has a choice - be executed for murder, or become food taster to the Commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived.
Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can't. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?
When Yelena realises she has extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic is punishable by death...

This book tells the story of Yelena, a young woman who was a prisoner because she killed a man. After several months in prison, she is given a choice: either die in a quick way or become the Commander's food taster, which means checking his food and drink for poison (which can obviously lead to death). Yelena, who wants to live, leaps at the chance and become the new food taster, learning carefully whatever there is to be known about poisons and the ways of testing for each and every one of them.

Obviously, there wouldn't be much of a story to tell if that were the only thing that happened. I'm not going to say anything else, though, just in case I throw in a spoiler for anyone who has not read this book.

Suffice to say, I loved this book!!! Sooooo much! I started reading it on a Saturday night and finished it on Sunday, something which is very rare for me to do. I can finish a book in 3-4 days (or sometimes a week), but it's not very often that I finish it all in 1-2 days. The last time this happened was with the last Harry Potter book. Anyway, I'm going off topic here.

I found the book was very well written. It just made me not want to put it down! I woke up in the morning (having read about 50 pages the night before), sat on the settee and just read and read and read... I loved the main character, Yelena, as well as Valek and the Commander, and I think that the author did a great job of describing them.

Another thing I liked about this book was that the ruling was not done by a king or queen, but by a military commander. In novels which include magic, I am accustomed to seeing the story set somewhere where there is a reigning monarch. I think the fact that she chose a military 'government' was a good way to set it apart from other novels with similar themes.

I have to say one more thing. When I finished the book, I immediately looked up Maria V. Snyder's website and saw that Poison Study was her debut novel! I honestly don't think I would have guessed! She writes very well! I look forward to reading the next two novels in the series, as well as her other books! (I just ordered them yesterday! Hope they come soon!!!

Rating: 9/10

Maria V. Snyder is an American author. She actually studied Meteorology at university, though she never worked as a weather forecaster (I'm not sure that sounds right...). She found work as an air quality scientist and she began writing science fiction short stories. She started working on her first novel in 1995 and it was finally published in 2005. Poison Study has been nominated for many awards, and won quite a few of them too!
Other books by Maria V. Snyder include:

You can find out more about Maria V. Snyder here:
Maria V. Snyder on Wikipedia
Maria V. Snyder Official Website
Maria V. Snyder on Goodreads

Counts as Book #23 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge!
Also, counts towards the 1st In A Series Challenge!


  1. Oh, I loved this series. In fact I love Maria Snyder. You have so much good reading to look forward to now! Did you like Valek?? You can't failed to have done!
    Happy reading

  2. Thanks Lynn!
    I loved this first book! I ordered the next two, but only the third one has arrived so far, so I can't keep on reading the series yet. Grrr...
    To answer your question, I absolutely adored Valek! He is such a nice guy!!
    Thanks for stopping by again! :D


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