Title: Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1)
Author: Maria V Snyder
On the Shelf: YA> Fantasy/Romance
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…
Firstly, I need to say a huge thank you to the publishers at Harlequin (UK) Limited for allowing me, via netgalley, access to this book early, and for also inviting me kindly to take part in the blog tour surrounding the release date. Unfortunately, I had to turn down that brilliant opportunity, along with going to my local book signing of this release by the author, due to real life commitments…the consequences of becoming a full time adult I guess.
Anyway, I won’t dwell, on the sadness, let’s move on to the cheerful stuff- YAY a book review! And not just any book review, but the review of the first in a new trilogy by Maria V Snyder in her popular “Study Series”, which has had thousands of fans chomping at the bit for more since the original trilogy ended with “Fire Study”. Ahhh, the happiness I felt when I discovered she was writing three new books in the series, you should have seen my reaction! But I’m here to actually talk about Shadow Study- as much as I can without giving spoilers away, so here I go.
We pick up nearly a decade after the whole series began with “Poison Study”, eight years after the original events of the first novel, and the whole motley crew is back in one piece, like the band of merry men…well, kind of, anyway. I did feel this book fell more in line with Magic Study and Fire Study, which I didn’t find to be as strong or intense as “Poison Study”, but still enjoyable nonetheless. Yelena is one of the most memorable female YA protagonists in the fantasy genre and that hasn’t let me down throughout the series at all. The book is exactly what it promises to be, a continuiation. It’s building up to events that will occur in the next two books, but it does so at a nice pace with enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages, with a couple of new characters along the way. I’m not entirely sure, however, you could pick this book up and entirely follow everything without having read the previous books, including those not in the original trilogy. While I read and loved the Study Series, I never did get around to picking up the two spin off trilogies (the Glass trilogy and the Healer trilogy.) I did struggle at some parts where there were strong references to events in those series, and while I could put two and two together, sometimes I got a little confused, which took away from my enjoyment of the book a bit.
While I did feel the story lagged a little at times, admittedly it was because I wanted the narrative to constantly stay with Yelena and Valek, but obviously that is a personal preference and a lot of people do love the secondary characters (sometimes more than the main ones!). While it isn’t my favourite in the series, it’s a solid sequel and it has definitely made me want to continue reading Snyder’s writing.