Poison Study - A Review

Poison Study
Mira, 416 pages

This is the debut book from Ms. Snyder, which came out in 2005 (I don't do hardbacks ;-)).

Yelena is saved from the noose by Valek; according to the Code of Behavior (set up by the military, headed by the Commander, that took over from a magically-influenced king), she is in line instead to become the new food taster for the Commander.

If she wants it. Now, the problem is that she's been taken out of the dungeons. Yelena's been in the dungeons for months and months for killing the son of one of the district generals, Brazell. That a murderer (and Yelena doesn't shy away from saying, yes, she did it) is offered leniency doesn't sit well with some people in the head military district. (Brazell's son tortured the hell out of her, which is the obvious reason she attacked him; but this isn't a widely-known fact at the beginning.)

But what will keep Yelena in line, from escaping to the south, to Sitia, where all the magicians fled to when the military took over? Valek tells Yelena about Butterfly's Dust, a poison that stays in the system for a full day. And, of course, unless she hangs around for the antidote...

I bought this on impulse in Wal-Mart (of all places!), and I found it a very good read. It's in first person, which is exactly the right POV for this story. We get to see and hear how Yelena copes with being a food taster...and then eventually branching out to learn other things in her spare time. There's also a bit of romance; just the right amount, I thought, without being overly gooey.

This is a story about a strong woman who has to come to grips with her past, has to re-find her soul, and allows herself to be liked and loved. It might sound somewhat trite or overdone, but I was drawn in by Ms. Snyder's writing style: I could feel Yelena's nervousness and other emotions.

IMO, quite well done. Now I'll just have to pick up the sequel, to see what becomes of Yelena!

ETA/UPDATE, 2007 August: I just contacted the author, and she said the pback version is due out next month (that is, September 2007). And I picked it up. Now I just have to figure out when to read it, as my TBR pile grows ever bigger.

~Nancy Beck


writtenwyrdd said...

I really loved this book. I'm waiting for the second one in pb, too.