book review | poison study by maria v snyder

poison study by maria v snyder

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Imprisoned for murder (of the self-defense variety), Yelena knows she’s soon to die. However, she receives an offer to become the Commander’s food taster rather than face execution. Though the job is deadly and certainly not easy, she accepts. This alters her path in ways she couldn’t expect, and she finds herself confronted by poisons, politics, magic, and her dark past.

Recommended if you like:

  • Hardworking, realistic heroines
  • Lowish fantasy with magical intrigue
  • Slow-burn romance


My Spoiler-Free Review

I really really enjoyed this while reading it. It was one I didn’t want to put down, and didn’t get bored of quickly! I find the entire concept of this book interesting–I mean, a murderer getting a second chance at life by becoming a food taster? Sounds super intriguing right off the bat!

However, after finishing the book, I had the “that was it?” kind of feeling. Which is unfortunate. And looking ahead at reviews of the rest of the series, I’m a little bummed that they don’t seem to go quite in the direction I was hoping.

Nonetheless, this book on its own was a solid and enjoyable read.

My likes

As already mentioned: the concept. Very cool.

Yelena. Our main character is not the automatically perfect badass heroine. She trains hard to build up her strength. She does research to learn how to become better at tracking and hiding in the wilderness. She has a natural intelligence and wit, but she doesn’t get everything right. She doesn’t know immediately who is ratting her out to a spy or who’s behind the mystery. This type of protagonist and heroine will make me instantly love a book 1000 times more than others without such realistic, relatable protagonists.

And the romance! It wasn’t quite perfect, but pretty near. I really loved the progression of it; it was a slow burn for sure. And it wasn’t the focal point of the storyline. Plus, they were a wonderful balance for each other.

The pacing. This book wasn’t high action all the time, but the slow moments came at welcome times and balanced out the plot. Even the “slower” moments I found interesting–anything about Yelena learning about poisons or unraveling the mysteries of the political situation one step at a time were still super intriguing.

My not so likes

I guess the general lack of not quite taking it there? I expected the book to go in a different direction than it did, and while I do like how it went, I don’t think it got quite as epic as I thought it would. And like I said, when I finished, I felt a bit ~hm. And that feeling was emphasized when I read synopses/reviews of the rest of the series and didn’t find them too appealing.

Also, the reveal of Yelena’s magic. When other characters finally find out that she has magic–and a certain someone has been proven to hate magicians–their reactions did not make sense to me. (view spoiler) I found that pretty annoying, because it was built up to be a big thing…but then again, I guess not.


Read it! This is not hard/high fantasy, so most readers would enjoy Poison Study. Besides, it functions all right as a standalone, so if you’re not interested in continuing the series (like me) you can enjoy this one and call it good.


Have you read Poison Study? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,


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