Yelena is about to be executed. She has killed a man, and in Ixia there are no excuses for murder. But then she meets Valek, the Commander’s assassin and second-in-command. He offers her a choice: death, or become the Commander’s new food taster. Of course she chooses life, even if it will be shortened by poison. But despite her stay of execution, she still has problems. The father of the man she murdered, a General in one of Ixia’s military districts, still wants her dead. Not to mention many people want the Commander dead, and as his food taster that endangers her life as well. And she can’t quite figure out her relationship with the mysterious and dangerous Valek–does he care about her? Or just his newest food taster? Will Yelena beat the odds and stay alive? Only time will tell.
Yelena is one of the best female heroines I have read in awhile. She is tough, smart, motivated, and has overcome horrifying experiences in her past to make the best of her current situation. She makes good choices, and is willing to take risks for her own betterment, even when those risks could have terrible consequences. I liked Valek also. He was not what you would expect for a character who is a feared assassin. He went out of his way to help others, not just Yelena, even when it did not benefit him. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Valek and Yelena’s relationship.
Poison Study is the first book in the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. I had already read another of Snyder’s books set in this world, not realizing Poison Study came before Storm Glass (previously reviewed). I love Snyder’s world building, and the contrasts between Sitia, land of magicians, and Ixia, the land to the north where magic is feared and magicians are executed and the characters that live in each place. These books are very well written, and I’m excited to finish the Study series and go back to the Glass series.