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Poison Study (Study, Book 1) Paperback – February 20, 2007
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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 is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it."
-Publishers Weekly on Poison Study, starred review
"Snyder delivers another excellent adventure."
-Publishers Weekly on Fire Study
"Snyder's clear, straightforward, yet beautifully descriptive style is refreshing, while the story itself is completely engrossing."
-RT Book Reviews on Magic Study
"Snyder deftly weaves information about glassblowing into her tale of magic and murder."
-Library Journal on Storm Glass
"A compelling new fantasy series."
-SFX magazine on Sea Glass
"Snyder's storytelling skills continue to build an involving story line with an engaging and resourceful heroine."
-Library Journal on Spy Glass
"Filled with Snyder's trademark sarcastic humor, fast-paced action and creepy villainy, Touch of Power is a spellbinding romantic adventure that will leave readers salivating for the next book in the series."
"The action in this book is non-stop, with many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing about what's in store on the next page."
-Examiner.com on Scent of Magic
"Snyder draws us in with her excellent, efficient storytelling, amusing dialogue and distinctive characters, all set within a well-crafted plot. A delight of a read!"
-RT Book Reviews on Taste of Darkness
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall, I'd say it's a solid book and an enjoyable read. There were things I really liked about it and things that really bothered me as I read it. I doubt anyone would pick up this book and be mad they read it, unless darker and heavier subject matter doesn't sit well with you, in which case I would not recommend. Snyder does not shy away from some really intense subject matter that includes such triggers as torture, murder, rape, and mind control. Generally speaking, I think she deals with these issues as well as could be expected in a short, relatively fast-paced book.
The story itself is really interesting, with a unique plot, an interesting world, and characters that are not necessarily very complex but are also certainly interesting and generally not cliche. The scope of the story does not leave room for all characters to be explored and developed, but where developing happens it was done well.
The biggest plus for this story is the way it deals with a transgender character, who is never identified as such given the setting of the story, but who, nonetheless, was born female and lives as a male. The author (and characters who discover the truth about the transgender character) handle this very well, always using the correct pronouns (he/him) even after the discovery and even, impressively, choose not to make a big deal out of it, but rather accept wholeheartedly that some people are just born in the wrong bodies. It was an interesting and wonderfully handled plot point that I applaud Snyder for.
The not so good:
The romance in this book was, at least at first, expertly handled as far as YA novels go. The build up of the attraction between the couple was slow and subtle, but obvious enough that the readers were aware that a relationship might be possible. However, once the book started towards its climax, this story line shifted into the far-too cliche, uninteresting world that most YA novels get stuck in where the main character needs to be told by other characters that her love interest has an obvious "thing" for her and then, at the least oppurtune moment when it barely makes sense for the plot and actually takes away from the action, the relationship begins and shifts from, "I have feelings for you" to sex to declarations of love in exctly two pages, which felt rushed and forced and was extremely disapppointing given how well the initial build up was orchestrated.
The dialogue also left far too much to be desired in this novel, with all characters speaking in generally the same manner, using the same vocabulary, and saying the same sorts of things, no matter their walk of life or purpose. Too much of the plot was delivered through dialogue, as almost every explanation about anything important came from a conversation and usually in a way that didn't make sense. Characters in this story were WAY too willing to answer the "why" with a super long and involved and way too real explanation that, more often than not, just felt forced and wrong. Why would a stranger tell someone they just met absolutely everything important that they know? It didn't work for me, and the preveleance of this kind of dialogue made it really hard to distinguish personalities among the more minor characters who don't get a lot of development. Anything unique about them was attached to them by the narrator, who had to add on personality descriptors to every chracter since the author failed to give them distincit personalities by their speech or actions.
Again, overall, an enjoyable read, but one that was certainly flawed and does not stand out to me as a particularly well-written piece. I will probably read the sequels, but I'm not dying to, which is always a sign to me than an author hasn't quite delivered.
Jessica over at A Great Read has been telling me to read this since I started blogging years ago.
I should've listened sooner. So good. OK let's walk through all the points that make this story great. The plot line is about a girl, Yelena, who kills her abuser. Yeah girl! I'm immediately rallying behind her. She is put on death row and about to pay for her crime when the assassin, Valek, offers her the chance to become the food taster of the Commander. Ten points already for being an assassin. And steamy. Then we have the setting of Ixia which is divided by eight districts and govered by generals under the Commander's rule. Magic is not allowed in this world, and only in Sitia can magic run free.
The journey through the story was so entertaining. Yelena trains with Valek to learn poisons and hopefully not die. Meanwhile, she works on self defense with two great side characters Janco and Ari. She runs into people that she shouldn't trust but does, and people she should trust but doesn't. There is mind control, hiding in trees, fire dancing, and an awesome library. Yelena doesn't start out very strong at all, as a character she is weak but smart. However, by the end I wouldn't mess with her.
There may have been flaws, but I just didn't see them.
Now here we have quite a slow burn romance, and let me say that Valek is a favorite character of mine so I enjoy this pairing quite a lot. However, when the romance happens, it's like YEAH NOW. I was left wondering where on earth that whole middle portion went. Not that I'm complaining too much because of the story there wasn't much romance in it to begin with.
There's a mo bad heroine, hunky assassin, magic, kingdoms, tree jumping, trust issues, and some truly terrible bad guys. I loved reading this story. There was quite a bit of action and the plot was thoroughly entertaining. I came to love the main characters as well as some amazing side characters. Recommended.