Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Posted January 28, 2015 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 72 Comments

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by Mira Books
Published on: March 1 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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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...

BOOKLOVE wellwritten fantasy nomnom

I’ve been wanting to reread this series for like two years. No lie.

It’s been 6 or 8 years since the last time I read it, and I remembered really liking it, but not much else. But guess what? NEW BOOK! So yeah, just prior to the release of Shadow Study seemed like an excellent time to get my reread on, and guys . . . it was even better than I remembered it.

That. Has. NEVER. Happened.

Yelena, a self-confessed murderer is spared from hanging when the Commander of the military governed nation she lives in needs a new food taster. The last one died of . . . poisoning. Go figure.

Valek, the head of the Commander’s security offers her the position, and when she accepts Yelena discovers that he will also be responsible for her training, BUT . . . his training methods can best be described as . . . trial by fire. I believe he says something like, “if you can survive this, nothing else will accidentally kill you, and you won’t be a waste of my valuable time and effort,” just before dosing her with the moste potente poison (<-----HA! HP reference!) he has available. Nice guy, that Valek . . . But Yelena is both stronger and smarter than she appears, and she not only survives the poisoning, but thrives under Valek's tutelage. And if that was all there was, well . . . that would be boring. But that's not all. Yelena has secrets. Like the reason why she killed the only son of her benefactor, one of the eight Generals directly under the Commander in rank. A General who is distinctly unhappy about her avoiding the noose. Yelena is also unsurprisingly world-weary. BUT. Despite her best efforts, she's unable to snuff out the fragile flame of hope that burns inside of her. Hope for a better life. Hope for someone to trust. Hope for something as simple, yet, previously, as unattainable as a friend. In Poison Study, you grow with Yelena as she grows, begin to trust as she trusts, feel the bitter disappointment of betrayal when she is betrayed, and barely dare to allow yourself to hope as something more than friendship begins to blossom.

Don’t ask me with whom, b/c I won’t tell you, but it is . . . lovely.

She picks up a few allies along the way as well, and a pair of soldiers in particular, Janco and Ari, are simply fantastic. Ari adopts the role of protective older brother, while Janco fills the prankster brother position exceptionally well, and you feel that in your gut too, b/c Yelena is an orphan.

And all of this is happening within the unfolding mystery that’s detailed quite nicely in the blurb, so I won’t rehash it.

On the surface, Poison Study probably looks a lot like every other YA fantasy out there, and it admittedly doesn’t stray far from the standard and acceptable elements. But Snyder has created a world with characters who make you FEEL what they FEEL, who you want to triumph, and fear for when failure seems imminent. I’ve never denied being a character-driven reader, and Poison Study is a marvelous example of the kind of book that really, really makes me happy. Highly recommended.

Study series:


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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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72 responses to “Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

  1. I don’t reread books like a lot of you I got to many books not read. 🙂 I have always thought about trying this series but I haven’t, maybe I should put it on my pile. 🙂

    • Yes, you definitely should. Especially if it doesn’t fall under the re-read umbrella for you. And I love rereading. Especially when a few new books in a row don’t like up to my expectations. It’s nice to know what you’re getting sometimes 😉

  2. Since ever I have wanted to read this series, but for some unknown reason I haven’t read it. I have Shadow Study, I haven’t read it yet…. when I requested it I thought it was a new/different series. Now I wonder if I have to read previous three books before reading it or if it will work well as a stand alone.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

    • Honestly, I think you should read this series first. I have the Shadow Study ARC too, but I haven’t read it yet, BUT there are a couple in between novellas on the authors website, and they seem to be setting up things for the new book, which I took to mean it was a continuation of the old plot line . . . I’m not positive, but that’s the impression I got.

  3. Oh yes I did read this one and the second one years ago. I don’t remember the story I confess but I remember loving it. It’s a good start right? In any case I’m glad you had a good time. I have book 3 so maybe one day. I saw the 4th but my friend told me there was a spin off series and all so I don’t know if we can read (book 4) it before…

  4. We’re in agreement about how amazing this series was upon re-reading! Kinda expected it to disappoint, tbh – but it rocked my socks off. Playing manhunt in the forest as a training exercise <— still one of my favourite training scenes in fantasy. Ari and Janco are everything…I want a spin-off series about them SO BADLY. I'm also loving the revamped cover artwork for this series – looks like it matches the artwork for Shadow Study!
    Danya recently posted…Review: Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

    • Manhunt is the forest was the BEST. And I’m pretty sure Ari and Janco are going to be pretty important to the new series based on the in between novellas on the author’s website. Have you read them? They made a big deal about Janco in particular.

  5. I’m so excited that this series has new book, YAY! I listened to first three books a long time ago, and I loved, loved the first and second book, I didn’t enjoy Fire Study as much as the first two books, but I think I was looking for a lot more romance in my listens back then. I think that if do a re-listen (which I will) I probably enjoy it a lot more now that my taste has changed.
    I totally agree with your review, this is a great YA fantasy novel.
    Well said! 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop/Giveaway

  6. *runs away with Valek because HE IS MINEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

    Okay so with that out of the way we can get to the more important part, like the fact that you re-read the series and remembered how awesome it was! I read this one a couple years ago as well (but not as long ago as you did) and I still remember how much I loved it. If I had more time, I’d be re-reading the entire series but yeah.

    I remember when I found out Shadow Study was coming out… I literally jumped up and down. I am so excited to readddddd it and to be reunited with one of my favorite ships in the world..

    I am so glad that the re-reading experience was so great for you, hon! 🙂

    Lovely review!!!
    Rashika recently posted…Recaps, Rants, Raves: The 100, Season 2 Episode 4 – “I… like Murphy?”

  7. This is a new to me author and series. Sounds like she is stronger than they expected. But the hey if the poison I just gave you doesn’t kill you then you might be worth my time, aspect would just make me mad while reading it but make me want to read more. Thanks for the great review, you’ve made me want to read this too.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Home Made Rat Toys

    • It’s a really good series, and yeah, the poisoning part seriously ticked me off, but the characters change so much from beginning to end, that if it wasn’t for handy-dandy highlighting, I’d have forgotten about it, LOL.

  8. Oh man, I really need to go back and re-read this book too. It’s been years, but I really loved it on my first read through. I’m excited to see what Snyder plans for the new addition to the series.

  9. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a really long time! Your fantastic review has reinforced my desire to read it. So, off I go to look for the audio book. Because after the rubbish I’ve been reading lately, I seriously need a good book to convince me that my life doesn’t suck! Great review Jessica! :]

  10. Stephanie from Once Upon a  

    I love how much you love this book. It was one of my favorite series and I am so excited that Snyder decided to open that book series back up! I think the Study series is just one of those books that doesn’t necessarily have that one big thing but it is deeply and immensely satisfying nonetheless.

    I need to reread this series before picking up the fourth book.
    Stephanie recently posted…TTT: Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read