Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study kept me intrigued from page one.
The main character, Yelena, is next in line to be executed. Murderers are not tolerated in Ixia, no matter the excuse. On the day she's set to hang, however, Yelena is given another choice: Become the Commander's new food taster, learn to identify every poison placed before her, and live the rest of her days one spoonful away from death.
I loved the plot, but when Valek stepped on the scene I knew it would be a great read. The best assassin in Ixia, a man known and feared by all, Valek is set to be Yelena's mentor, teaching her to identify the many poisons out there. Their relationship is strained from the start. Valek tricks Yelena into drinking Blue Butterfly's Dust, a poison that will kill her slowly (and painfully) unless she receives the antidote each morning. An antidote Valek keeps under lock and key.
How else would they keep the food taster from making a run for it?
And that was one of the things that Snyder did so well. She closed up those loose ends so deftly. Not only that, but she did it in such a way that it made the story even more dire. Yelena is in constant danger throughout the book. Possible poisoning is only the tip of the iceberg (though I loved those scenes where Yelena learned how to identify each poison by taste, smell, color. Very detailed and well thought out, gave the book much more depth imo).
She's still not rid Reyad, the man she killed and the son of a General. His ghost keeps popping up to torture Yelena even beyond the grave, and his General daddy still wants Yelena's head on a platter. When General Brazell comes to Ixia, his troops are gunning for Yelena; nowhere she goes is safe--not even her own living quarters. I felt that sense of danger the entire time. And there are plenty of scenes where Yelena had to save herself--she was tough as nails, and I loved her for that.
Valek was a great character, a big fan of him and his snark. Couldn't get enough of him, and I really enjoyed his quiet chemistry with Yelena. Still, I could’ve got more from a romance perspective. Actually, there was a great build-up; I really felt the tension between them. But when it came time for the resolution, it happened too fast and wasn't really enough for me.
The magic aspect was interesting and I'm sure will be explained more in the next books. Ari and Janco were awesome, two of my favorites. They watched Yelena's back in a place where treachery and betrayal were around every corner. The adventure was constantly pushing the story forward. Overall, I really, really loved this J
Poison Study was wonderful; the intrigue/kingdom espionage kinda reminded me of Kristin Cashore's Graceling or Gabaldon's Outlander (both definite favorites). So glad I finally read it!