My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: Really liked this book
What it’s about:
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…
My thoughts (spoiler-free):
“To Yelena, our newest food taster. May you last longer than your predecessor.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get so caught up in reading, so involved into a story and its’ characters that I finished a book in two days. But Poison Study did that for me and I love it for that! I now understand why this is one of the must-read fantasy books. EVERYTHING about this book spoke to me and renewed my passion for YA fantasy. Let’s summarize!
A strong and relatable main character. I was pretty quickly very fond of Yelena. She’s been through a lot and is about to be executed for murder when she is given a chance to become the Commander’s food taster. A job that is extremely hard and dangerous in itself, and on top of that she still has to deal with other people wanting her dead. This situation would leave many people scared and losing hope, but Yelena is a fighter. She’s not all that special, but she’s brave and smart and she WORKS for everything. Everything we learn about her, we learn because we see her acting. We’re never told about her personality, we see it in unfold from beginning until end and it makes me in awe of her.
Castle plot! I love a lot of fantasy, but I must admit I have a weakness for castle politics. This first book gives us a super intriguing mystery to figure out and I must say I loved getting to the bottom of it all – finding out what everyone’s real motives are, who wants who dead and what is up with that delicious chocolate! (Yes, you heard me. Chocolate!)
Dark and mysterious love interest. Now, this can be hit or miss. It can be done very badly or it can be done extremely well. For me, the character of Valek definitely falls under the ‘extremely well’ category. I was super intrigued by him and couldn’t read fast enough to try and figure him out. He’s more than just your standard ‘dark, mysterious and brooding’ guy and I loved his interactions with Yelena and was so on board with their budding romance!
Secondary characters! I’m a sucker for friendships and the friendship between Yelena and Ari and Janco had me gushing. It developed just right, but I just wish we had more of them. More in the next few books please?
However, I do have one nitpick and that was the ending. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the ending kind of disappointed me. The pacing of the romance suddenly went way too fast and I’m also not sure if I’m interested in having the plot move away from the castle, away from Ari and Janco and away from Valek…
Overall, this book made me feel pretty similar to Throne of Glass. (Poison Study has been around way longer though). Both books have very similar plot points and I had the same feelings while reading both series, though I must say I feel like Poison Study did everything just a tad better. Better characterisation, better romance, better pacing, better mystery. Other than the ending, I found everything about it highly enjoyable and I’m definitely curious to read more!
“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”
“Sieges weathered, fight together, friends forever.”
“Poisoned, pursued and living with a psychopath. Not what I would consider the good life. Death has its perks.”
“Yelena, you’ve driven me crazy. You’ve caused me considerable trouble and I’ve contemplated ending your life twice since I’ve known you…but you slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”
“Yelena.” I halted in the doorway, looking back over my shoulder.
“You once said I wasn’t ready to believe your reason for killing Reyad. I’ll believe you now.”
“But I’m not ready to tell you,” I said and left the room.”
“It’s a dirty way to fight, but I’m late for lunch.”
“Besides, thinking kind thoughts about Valek could be extremely dangerous. I could admire his skills, and be relieved when he was on my side in a fight. But for a rat to like the cat? That scenario ended only one way. With one dead rat.”