Review: Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder

March 4, 2015 Review 26 ★★★★½

Review: Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder
Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 407
Release Date: March 1st, 2015
Series: Soulfinders #1
Genres: Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Mysteries & Detective Stories
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…

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

bec (2)

Well, SHADOW STUDY was fun. I was always sure I was going to like this book. One of my favourite authors was writing more stories set in my favourite world with the very first characters of hers I’d fallen in love with. And I was right, SHADOW STUDY was fast paced, action packed, and had a plot that surprised me more than once.

And I’m sitting here with a decent introductory paragraph (for once) with no idea where to take the review next. This is the problem with favourite series that are underrated. I want to fangirl about all the things, but must restrain myself and convince non believers people who haven’t read this glorious series to pick up book one. Not that you need to read the other books first, Snyder does a very good job at filling in key events and back stories (which was helpful because it’s been a while since the last Ixia/Sitia book was released). It’s not info dumpy, it’s woven in really well. And there’s new tidbits that old readers of the series will enjoy as well, namely Valek’s back story about his assassin training and the lead up to his killing of the king.

SHADOW STUDY as impossible to put down, I really didn’t want it to ever end. Not only was I loving the return to the old characters and seeing what their life was like 8 years after it all began in POISON STUDY, but the writing was just so engaging and addictive. The action starts immediately in chapter one and doesn’t stop until you reach the final few pages. There’s new information and suspense every chapter, and plenty of fight scenes. And right at the end you’re bombarded with some epic plot twists. Things I never, ever saw coming. I had to reread some parts three times because I couldn’t believe what I’d just read. I’m really excited to see what these developments mean for the future of the world and the characters. There’s one development I predicted but you know what, I ain’t even mad because I have been wanting this to happen for SO LONG. What is it you ask? You’ll have to find out for yourself.


The way the story was written only added to the thrill. There’s three alternating point of views in SHADOW STUDY and each chapter ends in a massive cliffhanger! Every. Single. One from chapter one. It was bloody great, but frustrating because I just wanted to follow that one development not switch to another! Saying that, I really did enjoy all three point of views (there’s Yelena in first person, then two other favourite characters in third person) so any frustration I had didn’t last for long because I was soon caught up in another story line. Snyder’s writing doesn’t contain long winded descriptions either and is great at nabbing your full attention, so you’ll be flying through the pages. Her style of writing would be a great way to introduce someone to the worlds of high fantasy without having to worry about slow, boggy writing.

Not only is SHADOW STUDY action packed, but it’s entertaining thanks to the brilliant cast of characters. All my favourites side characters returned, not just Yelena and Valek. Ari and Janco have prominent roles, and Janco is sure to brighten up any dark scene. Lief is in it a lot and I forgot how much I loved him. Opal and her family make appearances, Kiki is her usual spunky self. They all had me amused at some point or another. I didn’t realise how much I missed them. Definitely going to have to make time to reread all the books some day. I want to meet them all over again (and remind myself of all those little details I have forgotten.) There’s also a couple of new characters introduced that I have come to love, especially one particular assassin.

I should point out that yes, this is an adult fantasy (Yelena’s 27 or 28 now). There are a few sexy times, but they’re not graphic, not at all. It’s tamer than what you’d find in some upper YA and NA titles. The sex is mentioned or eluded to in that fade to black way some authors use. It’s not happening frequently either because the plot doesn’t allow any time for it. Our favourite couple is separated for a great deal of the novel investigating different issues. They have more important things to worry about like not dying.

SHADOW STUDY truly surpassed my expectations. Definitely a great installment with plenty to keep me entertained. I struggled to put it down. It was great to return to all these characters and the world they live in. I cannot wait to see where this trilogy will take them. The wait is going to be tortorous.


If you haven’t read the Study series (and it’s sequel series), please consider picking them up. These books really don’t get enough love and they’re so unique and fun.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.3

26 Responses to “Review: Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder”

    • Bec

      This series was one of the first high fantasies I ever got into, and Poison Study was one of the first books I stayed up all night reading to finish. They have a special place in my heart :)

  1. Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    This reminds me of Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. Not story-wise, but writing- wise. Brilliant cast of characters, action packed, impossible to put down. Sounds awesome :) I need to check this series out!
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing recently posted…BLURB LOVE #1

    • Bec

      I’ve heard so much about Red Rising but haven’t read it myself yet. Many people have told me I need to read it.

      I hope you enjoy them if you do check these out!

  2. Sara L.

    Yes! Give us Night Study – NOW! *lol*

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Shadow Study, too, Bec. I won’t repeat too much of my review (linked below), but it’s definitely my second favorite Study / Yelena novel.

    “And right at the end you’re bombarded with some epic plot twists. Things I never, ever saw coming. I had to reread some parts three times because I couldn’t believe what I’d just read. I’m really excited to see what these developments mean for the future of the world and the characters. There’s one development I predicted but you know what, I ain’t even mad because I have been wanting this to happen for SO LONG.”

    Completely agree with you on this. Some serious stuff is about to go down in the next two books, thanks to what happened in Shadow Study. And I’m equally thrilled and nervous to find out how things unfold.

    And that one bit you predicted? I bet I know what it is, but I’ll leave it at that. ;)
    Sara L. recently posted…Recent Reads: “Shadow Study” by Maria V. Snyder

    • Bec

      She’s set up some interesting developments for the world that are going to be great to read about.

      hehehe I’m so excited to see what comes of that development.

  3. Lee @ Rally the Readers

    I just finished reading this, and it was like being reunited with old friends. I first read Poison Study a couple of years ago, and I get very nostalgic thinking about when I first met these characters. :) I am so, so, so happy that Maria V. Snyder returned to writing about this world!
    Lee @ Rally the Readers recently posted…Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

    • Bec

      It was such a nostalgic read! I missed these characters so much. I need to make time to marathon all the books again.

  4. Rashika

    OKAY YOU NEED TO GIVE ME A BIGGER HINT ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT, BEC. I actually stopped reading the book because I don’t want my babies to be separated so if this is a development that will make me very happy PLEASE TELL ME so that I can pick the book up again!

    I am so so glad that this book met all of your expectations. I’ve been waiting for it to long and to have to stop not even half way tore my heart. I genuinely hope that this development is something that I can look forward to and have it motivate me to pick it up.

    Fantastic review, Bec!! :)
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

    • Bec

      YES YES PICK IT UP YOU WILL BE HAPPY (I think) KEEP READING RASHIKA. It’s not really a plot plot development but it’s certainly something the characters weren’t entirely expecting that’s going to complicate things.

      Your babies reunite toward the end (before the development) when all the different plot points come together in awesome ways. It’s intense and great and PLEASE KEEP READING.

    • Bec

      This series is great. The books are so much fun and are well written and are just the best books to lose yourself in for hours.

    • Bec

      The Study series is amazing. Book three has some great plot twists. I hope you like it as much as you enjoyed the others!

  5. Asti

    I haven’t read anything by Snyder though I’ve seen her name around. I’m not sure what puts me off her work? That it’s adult, maybe? (Which is quite sad. I shouldn’t let that stop me.) More than likely it’s the romance. I’m just not into love stories. But I must say, your review definitely makes me curious about her work! I feel like you’ve said every positive thing one can say about a book! haha.
    Asti recently posted…Bookish WWAD: If Asti Were In The Raven Boys

    • Bec

      I love her books so much. I’ve reread Poison Study at least four times. She’s definitely one of the authors that got me addicted to reading. So my opinion may be a tad biased, but she’s a great writer and so very underrated.

      It is adult but it’s GREAT adult. And has heaps of crossover appeal. I mean, I’m pretty sure I was 14 when I first read Poison Study. And the characters start off New Adult age-ish (Yelena is 19 in the first book). There’s actually not that much romance (and no horribly graphic sex scenes or anything). And what is there is good romance! There’s also heaps of plot and character development and world building and magic to keep you entertained! Plus Snyder’s writing is so addictive!

      Also, she has written some YA! She has a sci fi/ dystopian duology called Inside Out, and she has written a MG which I haven’t had the chance to read just yet.

      I just spewed fangirl all over this reply haha

    • Bec

      It is a continuation! (but it starts about a year or so after the Glass trilogy finished) I wanted to re-marathon all the books again to refresh my memory before this one but never ended up having the time :/

    • Bec

      Poison Study is the first book. The chronological order is: first three Study books, then the Glass trilogy, then Shadow Study and yet to be released sequels.

      I hope you get to read it one day!

    • Bec

      READ THEM JEANN, READ THEM! Yelena is 19 in the first book, but ages up as the series progresses.

      Thanks :)

  6. Romi

    I really want to read the Study series, but haven’t yet. I’m loving fantasy at the moment, though, and it sounds excellent from everything I’ve heard, so I really should get onto that. I can sympathise with chapters that end with a cliffhanger and then move onto another POV. I can’t remember what book it was in, but recently that happened and it was frustrating and nerve wracking, especially as then the other chapter would do the same and it was a mess of exhilaration and waiting. But brilliant.
    Romi recently posted…Books I couldn’t get through in my break #2.

    • Bec

      Definitely give these a go if you’re in a fantasy mood! It’s set in such an interesting world.

      It was the best way to keep me reading. I couldn’t stop for the need to know what happened next!

    • Bec

      That was my plan too! Unfortunately I didn’t get time :/ Shadow Study does a really great job at jogging your memory though!

      Thanks :)

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