• Page Count: 409
  • Release Date: March 1, 2007
  • My Rating: 4 stars

Poison Study (Study, #1) 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 from the end.

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… some kind of knockoff chocolate factory? (This is not as Willy Wonka as it sounds).

The pacing was great and it’s 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.

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 the book just looking for his name. I appreciated what seemed like a slow-burn romance, but then thought everything it built up to really failed to deliver. I wanted to see the romance develop.

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 really mix well with the other relationships that were somewhat 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 felt more simplistic with the potential to be more. 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 even more. So all of the complaints are a good sign in this case!


3 comments on “Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder”

  1. I loved this book when I read it in 2015, but I have always been unable to run it an “All time favourite,” but I could never figure it out. Until this review. I completely agree that Snyder could have taken this story so much further. I do think though that this was her debut novel (correct me if I’m wrong) and I read her novel “Touch of Power” last year and I was blown away by how much her writing had developed. I think if you’re willing to give the author another shot, you should definitely check it out! I haven’t read the rest of the series yet, but I plan to soon and I am so looking forward to it!

    • I just got all of her books and am really looking forward to them, so that’s so great to hear!! 🙂

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