Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V Snyder
Review Summary: Complex but easy-to-follow plots, believable characters, and an impressive protagonist – very well done!
This book has so many exciting twists and turns, that I’m checking the standard description to make sure I don’t give anything away! We start when Yelena, about to be executed for murder, is instead offered the position of royal food taster. The catch is that she’s intentionally fed a poison that will kill her unless she shows up every day for the antidote. Although to an extent this attaches her loyalty to the king, Yelena is put into a variety of situations where she has to decide where her loyalty truly lies. And just for an extra challenge, Yelena starts to develop magical powers, the possession of which is punishable by death.
The plot in Poison Study ( and the other two books of the trilogy) is very complex, but masterfully brought together. There’s just so much going on in each one and it’s amazing watching Yelena juggle all of her concerns. She’s a very admirable heroine: brave, smart, observant, sometimes very funny, and often too independent for her own good. She was also fairly unique, relying a more on brains, agility, and stealth than many other strong female protagonists.
The complexity of the plot was only one of the book’s many good qualities. The pacing was perfect, with all of the threads of the plot building throughout the story, then coming together at the end for a final epic showdown. Many of the secondary characters are well developed and all of the characters make believable choices given their knowledge and motivations. Not always the best choices, but still believable. The only thing I disliked was the occasional clunky phrase and the plot was so engaging that these never distracted me from the story. Overall, a minor flaw and easily overlooked in favor of the many other stellar qualities.