Review: "Poison Study" by Maria V. Snyder

Buy at

Condemned prisoner Yelena is offered a choice: work for the Commander's head of security, Valek, as a food taster or face the gallows. Yelena, as she says, is no fool, and she agrees to become a connoisseur of poison. As dangerous as her new profession is, it becomes even more dangerous when her illegal magic powers come to the fore and her past as a tortured slave catches up with her.

Enraptured. I cannot remember the last time I read an entire book in one sitting. I could not, did not, put it down.

Yelena is everything you could ask for in a heroine: courageous, clever, resourceful, vulnerable, and strong. From the outset, her situation is dire. She is given a poison that will kill her if she does not return for her daily antidote. And even if she doesn't, she may simply die from doing her job well. But still, she tries to plot escape, to feel around the edges of her cage for a crack. And yet, her new life is a life. More than what she ever expected she might have, and she finds herself drawn to the people around her. The Commander, who signed her execution order, is not the man she expected him to be. And the assassin Valek becomes an object of fascination that she is unwilling to part with.

Valek is perfect... dangerous, quick beyond measure, unpredictable, and... beautiful. He gave Yelena the poison that keeps her under control, and yet, he seems to want real loyalty, born from affection. Yelena fears crossing him, but dares to test his patience -- a quality he admires. When she expects anger, he laughs. Cruelty? Compassion. A killer, yes, but far from cold-blooded, Valek's feelings for the new food taster split his loyalties and make him long for something more than coerced obedience.

The plot of Poison Study moves swiftly. And the cast of supporting characters is fantastic. The book touches on themes of trust and justice and includes a plot point concerning gender dysphoria that I was surprised to see.

Valek and Yelena's story might be over, but I fervently hope that it is not and that the sequel, Magic Study, gives me more deft adventure, clandestine meetings, and love worth killing and dying for.

Poison Study (Study, Book 1) by Maria V. Snyder
Published by: Mira (March 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0778324338
ISBN-13: 978-0778324331
Genre: Fantasy


  1. I loved this book. It was original, fun, and you really liked the characters. And your review is spot on. I can't wait to read Magic Study.

  2. Your review piqued my interest enough to set me on a quest to find both books. Thank you.

  3. Chatterbee says

    That's a really great review. (It made me love the book even more and more impatient to read Fire Study, which comes out in March).

    I loved Poison Study. I particularly loved the descriptions of food tasting in the books as well as the well-written characters. And Magic Study is, indeed, as good as the first. It is an excellent novel filled with suspense and action/adventure.

  4. Poison Study is my favorite book I have ever read, and I read alot.

    I have read the book 11 times in 2 years.
    I have read its sequal Magic Study 6 times.
    And I have read Fire Study only 1 time, but I am going to read it as much as I can.

    I loved the book. I reccomend it to everyone I know, and I reference it all the time.

    Amazing writing as well, the sentence structure and word choice is unbelievable.

    The plot, subplot, characters, and everything about the book was phenominal.

  5. It's a great book! I'm actually doing a book report on it, and it's being circulated amongst my friends, making it rather hard to write about!

  6. I may be in love with Valek. He's different from all the guys I have met so far...sighs....
    But I love this series, more than HP series too. I really wish it could turn to movie, but fear the rifht characters may not be used...

  7. I LOVE VALEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely positively LOVE Valek. He is my soulmate. Sounds wierd, saying that a character in a book is my soulmate, but he IS. Also, his relationship with Yelena is PERFECT! Oh, did i mention that i love Valek? i did? Too bad.

  8. I absolutely LOVE this book, it was the book that ended the streak of bad books I've been having. I think that it really should be made into a movie 🙂

  9. This review was very good. I just finsihed reading the book, and I really enjoyed it. It was an addicting book, and honestly I did not want to put the book down. But unfortulently I had too because I was in the middle of class. Unlike some book Poison Study never got boring, and every page seemed to lead to more adventures. I also think this book is great with both age groups for Adult and Young adult. My mom actually read the book before I did and she also loved it, as I did.

  10. Poisin Study had me from the very first paragraph, I knew I was in for a treat and I was not dissappointed! (Thank you, Kate, for the recommendation). Maria Snyder has a vast and eloquent command of word use, never repititious and completely captivating in her vivid and emotional staging. I was only sad that she didn't keep Valek's mysterious attributes as the carrot just a bit longer. I loved his sudden changes in temper. And no-one has mentioned Janco and Ari, whom I would love to adopt as my Big Brothers. I was not bored for a second and am anticipating good things from Magic Study.

  11. I had heard tons of raves about the book, but kept putting it off. I'm so glad I finally picked it up as I couldn't put it down and then stayed up all night reading Magic Study! Off to read Fire Study!

Speak Your Mind