Review: Poison Study – Maria V Snyder

  • Title: Poison Study
  • Author: Maria V Snyder
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Why: Someone compared my book to this, so I was curious.
  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: 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…

Review: If I had to pick one word to describe this book it would be bland. Entertaining enough, and interesting enough, but overall just rather bland.

Much of it I believe to be due to ‘debut novel syndrome’. Even brilliant authors such as Terry Pratchett suffered from this, and quite often there is just a certain indefinable quality to a book that marks it as someone’s debut novel. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means that you have to give the author another chance and see how well they’ve come into their voice. So I’ll make this clear quite early on: I liked this book well enough to want to see how the series continues.

The plot of the book is quite light to Fantasy standards. It is written from the 1st person point of view of Yelena, a young woman who has been locked up in the dungeon of Ixia for over a year because she murdered the only son of her benefactor. On the day before her execution she is offered a choice: rather than die she can become the food taster for the Commander, Ixia’s highest ruler. She is taught the peculiarities and flavours of the various poisons by Valek, the Commander’s chief of security. As Yelena gets used to her new position in life, it becomes clear that there are certain forces who wish to depose the Commander, and she unwittingly becomes involved in this. She also has latent magical talent, something which in Ixia is outlawed and punishable by death, and in all she spends most of her days simply trying to stay alive.

If that sounds exciting it kind of is, but in a bland way. The book is well written, but I did not find the prose as gripping as some other books I’ve read. Competent but not riveting. I also found the development between Yelena and her love interest to be lacking a certain level of believability. Again, it wasn’t that I couldn’t believe they were into each other, it’s just that there could have been much more to it.

A decent debut effort, and on the whole I’m definitely intrigued enough to see where this will end.

Originally published on Silk Screen Views: http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/poison-study-maria-v-snyder/

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