Goodreads Summary: "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…"
I can already just about guarantee you guys that my words are seriously going to fail me in this review. I haven't been this psyched, this in love, this dumbfounded by a book in I can't remember how long. Poison Study literally blew me away. I just...I seriously am lacking in the words to explain to you guys how awesome this book is...so expect a lot of failing (on my part) and gushing.
First off the concept of this book is just so amazing, so perfect I can't help but wonder why it hasn't been done to death already. I mean, really, is there a position more fascinating in a castle than a food taster? Oh sure there are the usual royalty, spies, and so on and so forth but really? A food taster? Just wow, folks, wow. Think about it, they are so totally privvy to everything that is going on. They have to be at the side of whoever is in charge, they have to be trained, and they need to know what they are up against. Huge potential right there for an amazing novel, am I right? Of course I am! And let me tell you, Maria V. Snyder took full advantage of this huge potential and knocked it right out of the park.
Yelena is just amazing. Definitely in my top ten YA heroines of all time. Probably in the top five or three because she was just so right. She's not Wonder Woman when we meet her, actually she is never that invincible, but she's got some grit to her. She has this insane curiosity that drives her, this yearning to be better, this desire to make something of herself. There is just so much to this young woman.
Valek is everything I ask for in a male lead. Okay, so he wasn't a bad boy in the sense of bad boys you guys may be used to hearing me rave about but he's rough. I loved him from his first appearance on. He is constantly pushing for more from Yelena, pushing her to go outside of the box that she makes herself, challenging her and just asking for more. He is the kind of person that you would do anything for simply because you couldn't stand to disappoint him. And the layers...He was, like Shrek or any other ogre, an onion. I found myself excited throughout the whole novel to peel away these layers (and Yelena's!) because I wanted to know more, I wanted to know what made this man tick. I was completely enthralled with him.
And the rest of the cast of characters? AMAZING. There is so much depth to everyone. Spin-off novels all around, pretty please? I want to know more. No character in this novel felt like they were a cardboard cut-out, someone you could just poke and find out there was nothing there to hold them up. There were motivations, aspirations, hopes, dreams, revenge plots, and just so much to them. There was none of that confusion from other fantasy novels where you cannot keep all of the characters straight, they stood out to you, they had personalities, they were for all intents and purposes REAL PEOPLE.
The magic was just so well done. Speaking to you as a writer of fantasy novels, I know how impossibly difficult it is to make a magic system balance out. To give your characters powers without making them supreme beings of doom or making them so bogged down with said power that they are incapable of so much as blinking. Magic is tough. Maria V. Snyder handled it so well. I want to study at her writing desk. The rest of her world-building is no exception. I cannot wait to do another read-through of this novel so that I can learn how to do it right.
Kick-butt heroine, food taster, intrigue, assassination attempts, epic world-building, amazing magic and a cast that just makes me want to devour the rest of the series so I can be with them again...Poison Study is definitely a win and a must-read for any fan of fantasy. I'm just so in love with this book. Expect to see tons of gushing on Facebook, Twitter and any top ten list that may appear on the blog. If I didn't have a stack of review books that I absolutely positively have to get to I would just flip back to the first page and start all over again.