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A Review of: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Choose: A quick death…or slow poison

Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy


Condemned to die for killing the son of a general, Yelena is offered a choice: she can face execution, or she can become the Commander’s food taster. Yelena soon finds herself at the center of castle life, poisoned both literally and metaphorically, as she learns who to trust, falls for the dashing assassin Valek, and must face her old demons.

Narrative Style:

The novel is told from the first person perspective of Yelena. This worked well for the story and made the various secrets and betrayals Yelena experienced feel very genuine. Being inside of Yelena’s mind also allows the reader to witness her interactions with the ghost of Reyad, her tormentor and the man she murdered.


For the most part I felt the characters of the novel were really solid, well fleshed out and multi-dimensional. Yelena was a strong, remorseful female character. Among the other characters my favorites were Janco and Ari, two soldiers who befriended Yelena and came to serve as sort of surrogate brothers to her. I wished that Valek, her eventual love interest, had been explored a little more. It seemed there was a depth to his character that was only scratched at.


The novel takes place in Ixia, a country made up of 8 military districts ruled by generals and overseen by a singular Commander. There is another country to the south known as Sitia, which unlike Ixia has magicians. I felt the political system was refreshing compared to other high fantasy books I’ve read. We get glimpses of the culture of the land as well, though most of the novel takes place inside of the castle.


The novel is 409 pages and is paced relatively well. The plot progresses at a rate that kept my interest as a reader. My only complaint was that the climax felt a little rushed.

Final Rating: 9.25/10

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