Title: Poison Study (A Soulfinders Novel Book 1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Published: August, 2012
Murder, mayhem and magic…
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories ofkilling Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.
Characterization and badassery
Some people can’t catch a break. Yelena grows as an orphan and is systematically tortured by her would-be benefactor. When she finally fights back, she ends up in prison, waiting for the noose. What follows is a progression of her self-rehabilitation, and her growing sense of self-preservation. I can’t say that Yelena is a straight-up badass in this novel, but she does have remarkable tenacity and strength of spirit. She’s resourceful and uses what little she has to survive. By the end of the book she’s gotten herself to a respectable level of asskicking. My guess is that she will come into the full flush of her badassery in subsequent books of the series.
Plot and pacing
The pace drags a bit and the plot is not the kind that leaves you guessing. Still, this book has charm. The premise is unique, and that’s worth a lot. It compensates for the lack of momentum and intrigue.
Prose and editing
While there aren’t glaring issues like word misuse or grammar problems, the writing could have been tighter. I have the sense that this will probably improve through the course of the series as the author improves her craft.
Yelena is so innocent and unassuming that humor isn’t really in her wheelhouse. Cracking jokes wouldn’t fit with her character profile.
I want to love this book for its unique premise, but I have to settle for quite liking it instead. The story is formulaic with its orphan-who-has-a-special-power theme, and there weren’t any surprising developments.
Nonetheless, the plot of Poison Study is something I haven’t read before, and that scores a lot of points with me. I enjoyed the world that Maria V. Snyder created, and she told a compelling story.