TITLE: Poison Study
AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder
STARTED: October 18, 2006
FINISHED: October 19, 2006
FIRST SENTENCE: Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] 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.
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.
THOUGHTS: This was the book that kept me up until 3:30am because I just refused to go to bed without finishing it. At first, I could not figure out why I had to read it, but then it dawned on me: this book has everything I love. There was mystery, romance, fantasy, a strong heroine and an equally strong hero, vivid writing, and a plot that makes me want to film the book. So, while nothing in Snyder's work was groundbreaking or overly fantastic, it had enough of what I love to keep me reading into the wee hours of the morning.
Yelena's predicament is the central focus of the novel, an unabashed condemned murderer, she opts to become the Commander's food taster rather than swing from the noose. Valek, the Commander's (dashing) chief of security, educates her in the art of poison. From the moment these two meet there is an intangible thread of connection and, dare I say, romance. I believe it was this relationship that kept me reading. There was something about Valek and Yelena's interactions that just made me want to know more. From the beginning, I knew these two characters would end up together, it was all a matter of how. Having Valek basically force Yelena to risk her life at each meal only added to the dramatic tension of their relationship. And when Yelena makes a move on Valek while she's drunk, I about fainted.
Snyder rounds out her two leads with a wonderful cast of supporting characters. They are all play a unique and vital role in the tale, and I look forward to hearing more of their stories in the coming books in this series. Snyder gives enough back story to the characters to make them interesting, while leaving enough hidden to make you want more. She walks the fine line between over sharing and underdevelopment perfectly.
Top this off with writing that is vividly descriptive. Snyder's prose is not bland, nor is it flowery. Reading this book made me want to film the scenes. Snyder has created such a world of magic and mystery that I can't help but want to paint it in pictures. Even her descriptions of the dank and dirty prison cells makes reading about them desirable. It takes skill to paint pictures in the reader's head, and Snyder certainly does that.
Snyder waits to throw in the touch of fantasy and magic toward the end of the book, and it is this bait that I will certainly follow into the next addition to the series.
MISCELLANEOUS: I totally preordered the book from the library already.
KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): This copy has to go back to the library, but I certainly want my own.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]
CR: Dracula by Bram Stoker
RN: Not a clue, and I'm too excited about the seeing the Notre Dame team on Saturday to actually think ahead.