Yelena, convicted of murdering the son of a powerful general, awaits execution. But with only a few hours left, she is offered an incredible reprieve -- and agrees to become the new food taster for Commander Ambrose, the military leader of Ixia. Living in a palace and eating only the best meals is a dramatic change for Yelena, who spent the last year locked up in a rat-infested dungeon, eating gruel. But she soon realizes that she has more to worry about than ingesting potentially lethal poisons in the commander's meals. The general whose son she murdered has vowed bloody vengeance, and everyone in the commander's retinue look at Yelena as an untrustworthy criminal. The longer she stays alive, however, the more she begins to understand her own perplexing abilities -- all of which will be put to the test when cunning rebels plot to take control of Ixia.
I'm going to get straight to the point: I love this book. Wholeheartedly, in retrospect. It came highly recommended shortly after its release from a friend, and I was dubious. It wasn't the type of book I read at that time, and from the first 20 pages or so, I didn't think I was going to like it. And then something clicked and I found myself falling in love. With Yelena. With Valek. With Ixia and the Commander, and every little detail of the fully-realized world Maria V. Snyder created.
It's one of those I've never fully reviewed because I don't even know what to say or where to begin. I can't talk about it, I can only discuss it. About a year and a half ago, my book club (devoted Snyder fans, all) got Maria to come to town for a couple of events, and we hung out with her and had a rollicking good time. At our first dinner with her, this big, loud, lovely affair, we abandoned our polite Company Behavior and devolved into our normal book club selves, yelling over each other about our favorite characters and how things should happen, and who was clearly right and who was hopelessly wrong...Maria sat back and watched it all like the cat who'd eaten the canary. It must be a heady experience to see people get so involved in your writing.
And that's the highest recommendation I can give. We cared. We still argue about it. We still have a tendency to turn roughly 1/2 of our monthly meetings into animated discussions about Maria's work (generally, the Glass series, in which we most disagree on things). When someone new joins and asks us what to read, we all say "Poison Study" like Stepford Readers. So what should you read?
Should have shown you these looong ago, as our visit with Maria took place in November...of 2009...
the group of us
Dinner with Maria. Lots of antics.
My contribution to our dinner. When we read Poison Study for book club, I made "Pick Your Poison" lemonade, with fruit purees to mix in, each named after a poison from the books. It was a hit, so when Maria came, I made it again -- bigger and better! It's an odd assortment of beakers, test tubes, and odd-shaped glass, plus some skull and cross bones "shot glasses" (votives). All transported in an antique medical satchel... ;)
After dinner, we presented Maria with a gift basket as thanks!
I had other pictures, too, from the event, but I can't seem to find that memory card, so this'll have to do!
*Make sure you check out my CSN stores $65 GC giveaway and my part of the Follower Love Blog Hop giveaway!