Reviewsday: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

poison-studyBound in chains and awaiting execution for murder, Yelena Zaltana does not expect a reprieve and is preparing herself for the inevitable. When she’s hauled in front of a mysterious, looming stranger, she knows it is time to confess her sins before she is taken away to die. Instead, he offers her an opportunity that only a fool would pass up; and Yelena is not a fool.

Positioned in the Commander of Ixia’s household as his personal food taster, Yelena’s duty requires her to learn the ins and outs of various poison, which unfortunately includes suffering the side effects occasionally. Her compliance is ensured by her mysterious stranger, Valek, who administers an antidote to the poison he slipped into their toast to her new undertaking. But the poisons are not the only dangers that lurk in the shadows, waiting for Yelena. People are seeking revenge for the life she took, there are stirrings of rebellion and, to top it all off, magicians seem to be popping up around the countryside causing havoc. If Yelena wants to survive everything that’s coming, she’ll have to learn faster, fight harder and find the strength to do what has to be done before it’s too late.

Poison Study, part one of the Ixia Chronicles, is a beautifully constructed novel with weaving strands of danger, deceit, magic and suspense that shape the elements of a unique fantasy realm that you want to dive head-first into. The characters practically leap off the page and each new surprise is equally breathtaking and heartbreaking. Yelena’s adventures are endlessly interesting and, if you can catch up quickly, the latest book in the series, Night Study, is sure to be the best one yet.