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Poison Study (A Soulfinders Novel) Paperback – November 18, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: A Soulfinders Novel
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mira; Reprint edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778327116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778327110
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (500 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Shivers, obsession, sleepless nights—these are the results not of one of the milder poisons that novice food-taster Yelena must learn during her harrowing job training but of newcomer Snyder's riveting fantasy that unites the intelligent political focus of George R.R. Martin with a subtle yet potent romance. Through a stroke of luck, Yelena escapes execution in exchange for tasting the food of the Commander, ruler of Ixia. Though confined to a dank prison cell and doomed to a painful death, Yelena slowly blooms again, caught up in castle politics. But some people are too impatient to wait for poison to finish off Yelena. With the help of Valek, her steely-nerved, cool-eyed boss and the Commander's head of security, she soon discovers that she has a starring role to play in Ixia's future—a role that could lead to her being put to death as a budding magician even if she hits each cue perfectly. The first in a series, this is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Poison Study is a wonderful and lively read. I particularly love the pragmatic heroine and her stubborn refusal to give up or give in. Highly recommended!" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I look forward to her next book, Magic Study, and can't wait to read it.
Wendy A. B. Whipple
From the moment I read the first page of this book I couldn't put it down until I finished it!
Loves to Read
The characters were well developed and the story and plot were well written.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 106 people found the following review helpful By KMont VINE VOICE on February 17, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yelena has committed the ultimate sin and for that, she has been sentenced to die by hanging. Yet when she faces the man whom will send her to the noose, she receives an offer instead to live. Granted, there are catches, first and foremost the duty of food taster. Assassination by poison is ever a favored way to strike at the Commander and as the next prisoner to be executed, and as they need to fill the position, Yelena is next in line for the job. Thinking escape is surely in her future, she takes on the dangerous new duty. Her new handler though, Valek, has many tricks up is sleeve and soon Yelena finds it's not as easy to escape as she thought.

The castle walls of the former King of Ixia hold secrets and dangers, and they all seem focused on the newest member to the Commander's staff. As Yelena begins and perfects her new poison detecting skills, she'll still have to deal with a general that wants her dead, the stigma of a murderer and strange powers that, while having manifested slowly long ago, are now to the point of no return--she must learn to control them or she'll be in even more trouble than when she faced the noose. When a conspiracy against the Commander comes to light, Yelena will come face to face once more with the demons that drove her to kill. The question is; will this stoic poison detector be able to triumph over them again?

Yelena's story is a first person tale, told entirely from her perspective and it was a wise choice for Snyder. A young woman, one of immense promise and obvious talent, readers can only be drawn to the reasons for the choices she's made. From the moment she's given a life in exchange for another kind of prison, Yelena does not look back.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Heather on July 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have to thank Amazon.com and the reviewers on this one. I don't remember exactly how I came across it, but I must have been searching around amazon's site, and it appeared as a recommendation or one of those "If you like this, then you'll probably like this" suggestions, so I opened up the page for Poison Study and read the reviews.

People seemed so excited about the book that I ran out that day and bought it from a local bookstore. I picked it up casually the next morning before I needed to head outside and do some gardening. Now, I'm not sure if it was the power of suggestion or not, but I literally had to tear myself away from the book or I would have read it straight through in one sitting. As it was, I thought of little else while I was gardening, returned to reading it as soon as I had showered, and finished it shortly before DAWN (and I'm not that fast of a reader).

I never really thought I'd be interested in the fantasy genre - although I, like everyone else anxiously awaited each release of the LOTR movies - and I never ventured into the sci-fi/fantasy section of bookstores. I certainly would have missed out on this book if it had not been for the amazon suggestion that piqued my interest and the reviews which tipped the scale, so thank you, fellow readers, for that. I have since ventured into the sci-fi section a few times and have even purchased a few more books there. Needless to say, I'll also be purchasing Magic Study as soon as it's available.

So, really no need to re-hash the plot here. Others have covered it just fine. I happen to like books written in the first person quite often. It presents a far more vulnerable, sympathetic, and natural perspective. I think it's written really well and that Maria Snyder has an appealing style.
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52 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Meliere on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Poison study begins with an interesting dilemma: how much are you willing to risk to delay death?

For Yelena, a soon-to-be-executed murderess, the answer is everything. To prolong her life for an indeterminable time, she is willing to participate in a gamble: she will become the Commander's food taster. The prize? The possibility of living just one more day after each successful tasting. The stake? Her life.

One can't deny this is a superior setup. It draws the reader in right away, as we hold our breaths and quietly cheer for the disillusioned but sturdy Yelena. The novel's beginning, more or less, seemed to promise a more original work than the cliche-ridden fantasy genre often permits.

But, unfortunately, Poison Study ultimately disappoints. Half-way through the book, the originality and excellence of execution found in the beginning fades and disappears all together.

Some grievances:

1. The plot: Oh, Poison Study, you could have been so much more poisonous and intriguing. Survival by poison detection is a dangerous experience indeed, and I was hoping Yelena's experience was one of heart-stopping suspense and subtle but potent political intrigue. The first half had a bit of this. Yelena was admirable as she survived by hard work and intelligence.

Sadly though, the plot soon dissolved into the all too familiar, formulaic, heroine centered plot: OH NO, the ENTIRE country is in danger. Why? because a very, very evil villain is using magic to threaten All-That-is-Good-and-Just. Enters the heroine, who is really the Destined One. Her life will be compromised several times, but because she has the Rare Gift of Extraordinary Magic, she saves the day.
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More About the Author

When I was in sixth grade, I learned about meteorologists and decided I wanted to be one. My visions of chasing tornados throughout the Midwest and flying through hurricanes didn't pan out. Mostly because I wasn't good at forecasting, and my grades weren't exactly stellar. Let's face it, I'm a daydreamer--always have been, always will be.

I did graduate from Penn State University and was hired as an environmental meteorologist--try and say that five times fast ;) and I started writing when bored at work. It's never a good idea to get caught just staring out the window, so I wrote my daydreams down. After fooling around with short stories, I wrote my first novel, Poison Study. It was published sixteen years later. A lesson in patience and persistence! I had caught the writing bug and Magic Study and Fire Study soon followed.

Even though I went on to earn a Masters degree in writing from Seton Hill University, I never lost my fascination with storms, which is evident in my Glass Series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass and Spy Glass), and I still consider myself an environmentalist. The green part of me comes out in both Inside Out and Outside In. Trella's world is contained inside a big metal cube and they must reuse and recycle everything. One thing they got right in one otherwise messed-up world!

My latest series is about a healer and I happily let my nurturing side take over. Touch of Power starts the series with Avry on the run in a world recovering from a devastating plague. Scent of Magic is the second book and the third, Taste of Death will be out December 2013.

Aside from a writer, I'm also a teacher and mentor for students enrolled in Seton Hill University's MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I enjoy working with aspiring writers and helping them complete their novels. I've won a half dozen awards and been on the New York Times bestseller list, but nothing compares to being the proud mentor come graduation day!

Other things I enjoy are playing volleyball, photography and traveling. I'll go anywhere at anytime - much to my mother's dismay since my husband and I frequently bring along our son and daughter on our adventures.

I love my job. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study martial arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and get a personal tour of a maximum security prison and call it all research? I'll give you a hint--not working as a meteorologist.

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