Book Review: Poison Study – Maria V. Snyder

60510Series: Study Series – Book One
Pages: 409
Publisher: Mira
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

Magic, murder and mystery all feature in this stunning novel from Maria V. Snyder.



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…


Maria V. Snyder’s study series is one of my favourite series’s of all time. I have read it multiple times and I never get bored reading it. It’s an extremely well crafted story and it is a series by which I judge so many other fantasy series. I could rant for hours about how perfect the book is, but that’s not going to give you any reason to read the book. So here’s a few:

The fantastic characters. Snyder’s series revolves around young Yelena, an orphan with a dark past. She’s always getting herself into trouble, but she’s curious, quick to learn, and immensely likeable. Coming back to reading Poison Study after a year or so is like returning to an old friend, it’s so easy to fall into reading about such a great character. Coupling her with master assassin Valek, the two have some very witty exchanges and they go so well together. You immediately root for them both to succeed. Add in a whole host of fantastic secondary characters – Ari and Janco to briefly name but a few – you begin to see what an interesting mix of characters Snyder displays in the novel.

So many fantasy books revolve around a medieval setting, but Poison Study does this with a new twist. Instead of a King and a monarchy, a military uprising has occurred, meaning the villages become districts, the overseers of each district are Generals, and managing all is Commander Ambrose. It adds a different twist to the fantasy tale and one that I absolutely love. Not only is there a strict military code of behaviour that will not be deviated from – which sort of reminds me of a sinister big brother is watching you – but women who are so often secondary characters in fantasy novels, can advance to military positions, become leaders and leave their old jobs of washerwoman and servant.

The story is also well paced, plenty of action, murder, mystery and magic – pretty much everything you could look for in a fantasy novel. If you haven’t had the chance to immerse yourself in Ixia and it’s fascinating host of characters, I suggest you make this one top of your to be read list, because it’s absolutely wonderful.

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