- Page Count: 409
- Release Date: March 1, 2007
- My Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads book description:
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison. 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.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
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…
The castle, politics, dark mysterious guy, strong female MC, and way it unfolds as a sort of mystery were all seriously awesome. I did really enjoy this book, but think I was just expecting a bit… more?
The basic plot is Yelena killed her sadistic abuser but is saved from execution by accepting a position as the Commander’s food taster. She’s given some poison everyday and then has to check back for the antidote in order to deter her from escaping. Yelena gets thrown into a world of politics & spying while she trains in self-defense and tries to figure out exactly what’s going on with mysterious events involving the dad of the guy she killed and… some kind of knockoff chocolate factory? (This is not as Willy Wonka as it sounds).
The pacing was great and pulled me into the story right away. It’s a pretty quick read, but I honestly would’ve liked it to have been a lot longer! This was a really cool world but the story felt like it just barely touched the surface of every plot point. The writing fell kind of flat for me and was pretty devoid of emotion in the end, so it was a bit harder to connect to everything. It was just a little… bland?
Valek, the guy who trains Yelena in poison tasting, was easily my favorite part! He had kind of a Darkling quality and I totally wanted to skim some pages just looking for his name. I appreciated what seemed like a slow-burn romance, but then thought everything it built up to kind of failed to deliver. They were just suddenly in love in the end? I wanted to see their romance develop more.
The main reason I took a star off was because the book struggled to find the right tone at times as it wavered between a gritty, more mature story and a lighter/younger YA book. I think this story would’ve worked better as an adult book since there was a pretty intense & traumatic backstory for Yelena (rape trigger warning btw) and the villain was doing creative horrible things that could’ve grown into a really great darker tone. But then that didn’t mix well with the other relationships that were somewhat simplistic and juvenile at times. A good chunk of the book felt like:
Some of the friendships were really solid, though — I LOVED Ari and Janco so much!
This really did remind me of Throne of Glass at times with the writing and how some bits were really complex and creative, while others had the potential to be more. If someone tells me that the sequels in this series are as shockingly amazing as the Throne of Glass sequels, then I might check them out.
BUT but but (I know I complained a lot, sorry) this book really is a fun read overall! I just liked it so much that I’m disappointed it wasn’t something I could connect with more if that makes sense.