Review: Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder


Poison Study

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
My Rating : {★★★★☆}

Young Adult Fantasy
(first published October 1st 2005)

Source: Borrowed
Choose: A quick death or slow poison…

On the eve of her execution for murder, Yelena Zaltana is offered an incredible reprieve - on the condition that she becomes the food taster for the military leader of Ixia, Commander Ambrose.

Avoiding poison is the least of her troubles, however… General Brazell, father of the man she killed, has vowed bloody revenge; she’s beginning to have feelings for her captor, Valek; and someone is plotting the downfall of the current regime.

In a desperate race against time, Yelena must learn to control the growing magical talent within her and master the demons of her past. The Commander’s life, the future of Ixia and all those she loves depend on it…

“To Yelena, our newest food taster. May you last longer than your predecessor.”


4.5 stars - I really, really, really enjoyed this book. It had been sitting on the TBR shelf for quite some time and I really don't know why I didn't pick up this series sooner. Although being able to binge read them all now has it's considerable perks.

I guess on the surface, Poison Study really looks like a lot of other YA fantasy books, HOWEVER, this one really does have it all. There's mystery and intrigue, spies and assassins; a wonderfully bright, determined and believable kick-ass heroine; politics, conspiracies and tactics; a great cast of characters (including a vengeful ghost!); a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat and a wonderfully slow-burning romance that you will fall for, root for and believe in. That sort of chemistry does not come so easily!

"You've slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart. You have poisoned me"


Valek is probably one of the best characters I've read lately and I just loved how Snyder developed him. He's calculating, cold and even selfish and yet there's so many amazing redeemable qualities to love too including his humour, resourcefulness and shrewdness. He's multifaceted and completely plausible as both an assassin and as the head of security for Ixia. His sense of loyalty is also unparalleled and unwavering and I love how that stays true throughout.

Besides, thinking kind thoughts about Valek could be extremely dangerous. I could admire his skills, and be relieved when he was on my side in a fight. But for a rat to like the cat? That scenario ended only one way. With one dead rat.


The writing is skillful - so deceptively simple that it draws you in without flowery descriptions and yet the world building is vivid and the characters pop off the page. There's a lot going on here and Snyder manages to keep it all together and keep the action flowing without too much happening at once. Yelena's voice was a pleasure to read and not ONCE was I told as a reader how amazing, how bad-ass or how fantastic she is. I got to discern all of that for myself.

The entire book is just so readable and so damn entertaining. It's artfully addictive!

“Poisoned, pursued and living with a psychopath. Not what I would consider the good life. Death has its perks.”


Magic Study (Study #2)→