Publisher: Harlequin Australia
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…
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.