Shadow Study – Maria V. Snyder –  Published 1 March 2014


New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she’s back with a new tale of intrigue.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance.

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she’d survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek’s job – and his life – are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret – or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is – while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous.

Awesome. Brilliant. Wonderful. Long-awaited. Satisfying. Everything-I-Was-Hoping-For. Can I have more now, please.

When I first heard that we were getting more Yelena and Valek I was… well, really excited!!! I had enjoyed Maria Snyder’s subsequent writings, but nothing ever compared to Yelana and Valek, the wonderful world they live in, their colourful friends and exciting adventures. And you get all this once again in Shadow Study.

This next instalment in the study series, the book we have all been desperately waiting for, starts with a bang.

Yelena is the liaison between Sitia and Ixia, as well as a powerful magician, specifically a Soulfinder – a dangerous mix of dangerous jobs. On her way home to meet with her heartmate Valek, she is ambushed. As Valek returns to his job as chief of security for the Commander of Ixia – note, also a very dangerous job, Yelena is horrified to find that her magic has been blocked. Unsure what to do, she begins to unravel the mystery of her attack and her loss of magic. Valek has his own rash of problems, including increasing security concerns, a vie for his job and a new smuggling ring.

I’m not sure if you would need to have read all the books in the Study series or even the Glass series to understand Shadow Study (which you really should anyway for your own pleasure and benefit). It would certainly make the backstories and characters clearer, but I think a complete newbie to the world, characters and series could fare ok as well.

In this book we are given chapters from both Yelana and Valek’s point of view. I loved the glimpse we get into Valek’s childhood and his rise to true assassin glory. It made me love him even more (you didn’t think that was possible, did you). His point of view worked well – who could honestly complain about more Valek – especially as Yelena and Valek spend the majority of the time apart. Now, don’t distress at this, as it works really well, lots of action and I’m thinking the next book will give us lots of time when they are together. We also get chapters from Janco’s view point, which I really enjoyed. Fresh and highly amusing, he and Ari have always been favourites, but once again I loved seeing more of them and getting this great insight into Janco. While joined with a lot of familiar faces, there are some exiting new characters, which I’m guessing we will see more of as the series progresses. I am now desperately awaiting the next book.

I figured out what was really going on with Yelena’s magic right at the start, but that’s ok, I like to be right and there are plenty of other twists and mysteries and action (and Valek) to keep it interesting. And there is a lot of action. The writing style is perfect (come on, it’s Maria Snyder, not like we were expecting anything else) and the pace is fast, keeping you turning the pages.

Quite frankly, this is a must read for all fantasy lovers, lovers of Maria’s other works (duh) and anyone who thinks they don’t like fantasy and just haven’t read this book yet.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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