Poison Study

I mentioned in my last post that I had been stuck on a 20+ hour car ride which resulted in my reading not one but two entire books. My destination was a small town in Minnesota with no internet access and little to no cell phone service. This has resulted in my reading not one but two more books in the span of several days (I’m in heaven). However, I’m reading faster than I can blog! (#firstworldproblems). Without further adieu:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder StarStarStarStarStar

I LOVED this book. It’s a book that I’ve picked up and set down for several years now and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. I read it in one sitting (granted my other option was to play color Sudoku with my grandma for several hours) but I think I would have read it in one sitting regardless.

Yelena was held prisoner in a dark and dank dungeon for almost one year before she finally saw the sunshine again… on her way to the execution block. However, the king is dead and the Commander has taken over the land – and he is in need of a new food taster. It’s protocol to offer the job to the next person in line for execution and Yelena accepts. Her trainer, Valek, (the Commander’s right-hand-man) teaches her how to taste and detect every known poison… and how to survive them. He tricks her into eating Butterfly’s Dust, a poison that will kill her unless she drinks the antidote every morning, thereby trapping her in the castle. But to Yelena anything is better than death, even if it means living on the brink of death.

Yelena was imprisoned for killing Brazell’s only son Reyad. Brazell is the general of one of the military districts in Ixia (after the takeover the lands were divided up by district… much like The Hunger Games, in fact exactly like that). In Ixia there are no excuses; no pleas of self defense, no accidents. Murders are executed. Yelena knows the rules and she accepts her punishment gracefully. However, she lives in constant fear of death and has some serious trust issues. Rightly so.

She refuses to allow herself to grow close with anyone, even those willing to befriend her. She is guarded around her “friends” and even more so around Valek and the Commander. One wrong move could send her straight back to the dungeon or, even worse, back into Brazell’s grasp and the twisted orphanage he and his son own… er, used to own. But Yelena is hiding something; a certain power that bubbles out when she’s in trouble, a power that is expressly forbidden in Ixia, a power that would get her killed on the spot if she was discovered using it. Yelena has to protect herself against Valek and his cabinet of poisons (not to mention anyone who tries to poison the Commander), Brazell and his disgusting guards who have been ordered to kill her, and a clever magician who is out to kidnap or kill Yelena by all means necessary. When so much of the world is out to get her she is forced to turn to the most unlikely person to help get her out alive.

*sigh* I was so sad when this book ended, so sad that I immediately bought the sequel the second I got within wireless range. I NEVER DO THAT. This book had it all, it had action and adventure that kept me reading from start to finish, it had unlikely romances that I completely reveled in, it had twists and turns that I never saw coming. The characters were so nicely developed – they had personalities, they had morals, they were strong and they were allowed to GROW. Yelena was such a refreshing main character, she never morphed into an empty shell or allowed the afore mentioned unlikely romance to change her. Rather than wait around for someone to swoop in and save her she recruits some soldiers to teach her to fight, she holds her life in her own hands and she never forgets it. She never stops looking for ways to better herself or help others… even in world where she owes nothing to no one. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

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