Series: Study #6, Soulfinders #3
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published on January 23rd 2017
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New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder brings her Poison Study series to its exhilarating conclusion.
Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.
Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.
With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.
This Fan Study special edition includes bonus novella Ice Study and a special letter to fans from author Maria V. Snyder.
I received a copy of this book from HarlequinTeen Australia, Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I don’t even know where to start with this book.
You know how each instalment of a series is supposed to be more epic than the last?
Well, at one point Snyder has something like 28 characters ‘onscreen’, all with different motivations, characterisations, and backstories, including small children with more sass than they have the right to be.
I don’t know how she managed to keep it all straight in her head, let alone write it in a way that made sense to her audience.
The crux of the story is that Valek’s old BFF Ambrose ‘The Commander’ is going to invade Sitia and wipe out all of the magicians with the help of some old enemies of Yelena’s. The Sitians are preparing for war against Ixia, but they are being mind-controlled by food laced with Theobroma, which strips a person’s resilience to magic. Meanwhile, Yelena has every bounty hunter on her tail, no magic, and a growing baby bump. Valek is getting too old for this shit, but he’s the only one who can face down certain people while trying to keep his newly-discovered magical powers a secret (which led to some truly awesome scenes of outsmarting villains, I might add).
The team – or ‘herd’ as they start to refer to themselves – of Yelena’s allies all work together to overcome their various obstacles including finding a way to beat Theobroma and work around the newly discovered resistance to the old fallbacks of laced poison darts. There’s a lot of investigation, sneaking, spying, assassin-ining, disguises, riding hard and fast, deals made and broken, and trust betrayed and earned again. All the while Yelena and Valek manage to keep the hots for each other: no mean feat after years together offscreen. I think Yelena is meant to be in her mid to late twenties now, and Valek is close to, if not, forty.
There’s so many characters in this book that we have to take on multiple points of view to tell the story. Yelena’s is always my favourite, mostly because it’s first person, but Valek is a close second, only because we get to see the real emotion hiding underneath.
As a conclusion to Yelena and Valek’s story I found this novel very satisfying, including the ending. I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers and even fantasy novices, although it would probably be best to read the books that come before it first.
I look forward to the day Snyder gets an idea for a spin-off about a certain new female character set fifteen or so years into the future, but until then I’ll have to be content with re-reading this amazing, fantastical original fantasy series from cover to cover all over again.