Poison Study

Poison Study  - Maria V. Snyder I consider myself pleasantly surprised by Poison Study. It is a tale with a strong command of its setting, characters and overarching plot in the realm of fantasy with action and romance. Poison Study follows the perspective of Yelena, a young woman sentenced to death for murder, but on the measure of her execution is offered a choice: either choose to be the Commander's official poison tester, or die a quick death by the noose. Citing herself as "no fool" - she takes the position, but finds that she teems on the possibility of death with every direction she turns - from the "Butterfly's Dust" poison that she's given to keep her tied to her position by the Commander's chief of security, to those attacking her for vengeance, and others whom she just happens to run into at the wrong time. But Yelena finds herself discovering more about who she is, and finds her larger role in an evolving kingdom conflict, as she learns the various poisons and trains under the watchful, yet stern eye of Valek.The pace of Poison Study doesn't slow in momentum with respect to events and interactions between the characters, and I didn't mind the simple flow of the writing style (it was admittedly easy to digest, and I probably would've loved it even more if it had developed even more into the setting and character sets more intimately). One of the things I did mind was that towards the end of the book, it does dip into cliche territories: romance aspects in particular, but then again, you get a sense of where it's building from the beginning of the book, and it's set up extremely well - just feels a little less developed towards the end of the book. I liked Yelena as a leading character, she's full of fire and determination despite her past and present problems, and the story provides several instances where she confronts both her outer and inner demons. It's one of the few books I've read this past year where I liked the characters and villains about equally (if in their intrigue), but I felt there could have been even more to build this story to some of the better fantasy novels I've read to date. Still, for a quick read and for the ride this story took me through, I enjoyed it.Overall score: 3.5/5