Release Date: October 1st, 2005
Rating: 4.5 stars
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...
My first thought after reading just a few pages into Poison Study was "why the heck did I not read this sooner??" I loved this book!
Yelena. She's such a strong female character. She was dealt a very crappy hand in life and she made the best of it. When she murdered Reyad, it wasn't because of the heinous things he did to her, it was because she was afraid he'd do these things to other girls if she didn't stop him. She even admitted to the crime knowing she would be executed for it (Ixia's laws don't protect those who kill on accident or in self defense). Instead of accepting her fate as the Commander's food taster, she spent her free time contemplating and researching ways to escape this life and flee to the South.
Valek. I did not see this coming at all! In the beginning, Valek seemed to be all about business-- like he only offered the food taster position to Yelena because he had to, by law, since she was next in line to be executed. Very unlikable, right? Wrong! Throughout the story, you realize that Valek is much more than that. You see it in the way he protects Yelena from General Brazell and even encourages her to learn how to fight and protect herself. You see it when he offers a grieving father (who accidentally killed his child) a stay of execution and a second chance at life, interestingly similar to the second chance he gave Yelena.
The romance. Again, I did not see this coming at all. I seriously thought Yelena was going to start dating Ari. I mean, how refreshing! No insta-love-- more like a romance that you literally didn't know was going to become a romance.
The Commander. I'll be honest. I thought he was going to be a jerk. He and Valek assassinated the previous King and most of the King's people to take control of Ixia. When I read about Commander Abrose's past and the reason for his coup, I began to like him. He wasn't such a jerk after all. In fact, there were many times throughout Poison Study where he actually proved himself to be a reasonable and fair leader.
One thing I didn't like:
What Reyad did to Yelena. Extremely disgusting. Ugh, my stomach was in knots while reading that particular scene. I just don't want to even imagine that and I thought the story could have done without it.
Can't wait to read the rest of the series!