Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Also by this author: Night Study, Night Study (Soulfinders, #2)
Published by MIRA on February 24, 2015
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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…
It’s been years since I read the Poison Study trilogy and I honestly did not expect another book in the series. I have not read the other books in the Ixia series and so am not sure how that may or may not impact this one. Since this is considered a Poison Study book, I would assume that skipping the others is fine. Shadow Study does a great job of dropping bits of information for people like me that had not read the series in a while. It helped refresh my memory on events and characters, while I did not remember much, I never felt lost.
I don’t read YA all that often, but every once in a while, it can be a nice change of pace, particularly when I am reading some longer, darker epic fantasies. This was no different, it’s a book I would categorize as a comfort read. While Valek may be an assassin, the reader is slightly more removed from the darker edges of the story, making it a lighter read. There’s really no gore or grimness even if there can be some dark parts. I think that’s why I read these books to be honest, even when I want a lighter book, I still prefer there to be at least some element of darkness, even if its predominantly off-page or lacking the graphicness or grimness that can be found elsewhere.
In Shadow Study, Yelena finds herself in a difficult situation. A good bit of time has passed (I think 10 years or so) since we last saw her, so she is in her late 20s. Her and Valek have continued their relationship during this time. While traveling, Yelena is attacked in an assassination attempt. This is obviously what spurs the conflict for the story. While she survives the assassination attempt, she is left quite vulnerable, her magical abilities somehow lost. The book is an investigation as they try to determine who ordered the attack (there’s no shortage of people that have reason to want her dead), as well as what could have caused her loss of powers. This could be a formidable weapon against magicians. Despite the dark sounding nature of the story, I find it fun to read (much like the Green Rider series by Kristin Britain).
My one real complaint about this book was the shifts in timeframe. In addition to the present day events, Valek’s story contains flashback scenes to his beginnings as an assassin. I enjoyed this part of the story, so I don’t wish we didn’t get it. I just didn’t care for the jumping around. I think I would have preferred to get this part of the story maybe independent of this book as I felt like it broke the flow.
This book does end with something that immediately makes you want more. I can’t say it was a shocking twist, but still something that if you have any interest in the characters, it makes you eager to find out what will happen next. I definitely plan on reading the next book to find out.