Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
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.... (from Goodreads)
I love a strong heroine, and Poison Study definitely does not lack one. Yelena has lost it all, and almost her life. She is offered a job to save her neck from the noose, but it might only prolong her life for a short time. She becomes the food tester to the Commander, he’s the equivalent of a president/king, but his rule is more military then democratic/monarchy. Her job is to check his food and drink for poison, poison that could ultimately kill her. Yet she doesn’t cower in the shadows, she sticks up for herself and she hits back. Yelena is a fighter to the bone, and it is an adventure to watch her strengthen in her own skin. The other characters range from good-hearted to down-right despicable. Valek, the Commander’s right-hand man and Yelena’s trainer, kept me on my toes. He was always creating twists in his own story. I loved him. Nothing is what it seems with the majority of the characters. They each keep you on your toes. The story was just as tricky.
This book is classified as YA, but it can honestly travel freely through the YA/Adult border. Although it’s a wild adventure that ages 14 and up can enjoy, some of the content is a bit more mature than your usual YA. There are some disturbing moments, but ones that make Yelena who she is now. The romance grows slowly, but I enjoyed it. There was a depth to the relationship that didn’t involve dependency. That isn’t seen too often and was so refreshing. That, I think, is one of the greatest messages we can give our young girls.
This is one of my favorite books of this year. Why did it take me six years to get to it?