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Publisher's Summary

Choose: A quick death...or slow poison.

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.

Don't miss Magic Study, the sequel to Poison Study.
©2005 Maria V. Snyder
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Critic Reviews

"Riveting fantasy that unites the intelligent political focus of George R.R. Martin with a subtle yet potent romance....The first in a series, this is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • A
  • WinnipegScotland
  • 12-03-05

Fantasy, with a touch of romance.

I have to admit, I had some hesitation selecting this book as it was published by Harlequin (a publisher of which I am a little leery, as I expect to get something sugary-sweet and cookie-cutter). But after reading this book, I need to do some reassessment! This book was full of interesting characters, and the story was engaging and enjoyable.

What I am not so sure of, is if this novel was really supposed to be filed under "Romance"?

Sure, there is a romance, eventually, but it doesn't play a huge part of the book. Political intrigue, magic, and nefarious plots all play much larger roles in this story than romance. Overall, this book would be better classified as "Fantasy".

So if you are looking for hard-core romance, then this will be a disappointment. But if you are looking for an engaging story, with some fabulous characters (including a heroine who was no wilting wall-flower!), then this is definitely recommended.

39 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cheryl
  • Clinton, UT, United States
  • 07-22-08

Not my usual type of fiction...

Not my usual type of fiction and was pleasantly surprised how good this book was. I bought this book when it went on one of those weekend only sales because it was cheap and had high reviews. I really don't listen to fantasy type novels, and wow, I will definitely read this author again. In fact after I finished this book, I bought the next two, Magic Study and Fire Study, which were each as good as the first one. Wow, is all I have to say, this was one book I will recomend to everyone!

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great descriptions!

My husband recommended this title to me, and he was right, it's a great story. The descriptions Yelena had for the food she was tasting and her insights into those around her were fascinating. I was sorry to see this book end -- the world it was set in was fun to explore.
(One caution: although this is part of the Harlequin Luna line, the romance is definitely a subplot rather than the main focus of the story. Also, there are some scenes of graphic violence.)

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

One of my favorites

Let me begin by telling you that is one of my all time favorite fantasy novels. Right from the beginning, I was hooked and still am. I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve read it multiple times. I even own the audio book so I can listen to it over and over while doing other things. I’ve shared this book with all the women in my family, who include a teenager, a couple of twenty somethings, and a couple of moms. They all loved it and went on to read the entire series. Needless to say, I love this book and I think you will too.

Imprisoned for murder, tortured, and scheduled to be executed, Yelena is presented with the option to be the Commander’s poison tester. She accepts the position and is given a second chance at live, at least for now. Under the tutelage of the Commander’s adviser, Valek, Yelena studies poisons, among other things (wink), and gradually earns respect from Valek and the Commander. Even with their respect, she still has many enemies and her live is frequently in limbo. While fighting for her survival, she discovers strange abilities, adding a whole new layer of complexity to Yelena’s life.

Yelena is a smart, strong, and easy to relate to heroine and quite honestly a character of her caliber is hard to find these days. Although cheesy sounding, Valek is an intelligent, awesome, bad ass assassin while at the same time tender and kind. I loved every scene with him.

Snyder weaves an intriguing world that left me wanting more. It’s fun, addicting, and there’s love, what more can you ask for. Yelena’s story carries on in Snyder’s next two books, Magic Study and Fire Study.

Read the first chapter on Maria V. Snyder’s website and become an obsessed fan like me. For more Poison Study fun, check out Snyder’s Assassin’s Study, which is a short story from Valek’s perspective and is set in between Poison Study and Magic Study. Read Assassin’s Study here.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

This is a good story.

The narrator is very good. Her males might sound a bit odd the first couple times you hear them, but after the first 15 mins or so, you won't even notice it's a woman reading male characters.

This is the best audiobook in the sci-fi/fantasy category I've listened to outside of Richard Morgan's... and this one has no profanity or graphic sex/violence so it makes a nice change.

I listen on the treadmill and I was disappointed when I had to stop because my workout was over. Several times I wondered if I should go to the gym early to find out what happened next.

The story and characters are engaging and very well read. I was never sure where the main character's relationships were going, or what she'd do next.

It is soft fantasy (not sci-fi) and it was NOT written with adolescent males in mind. (Note that it is a Harlequin production.)

I will be buying the rest in the series.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Manuel
  • Miami, FL, USA
  • 11-30-05

Amazing story!

This book is one of the most entertaining books I have heard in a long time! I am looking forward to the next in the series. Also, the reader was perfect for this book. I was enthralled in the story from beginning to end. I strongly recommend Poison Study.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fantastic read/listen

Love, Love, Love this series. This was the first book I purchased from Audible. I am hooked. I usually read, but this has changed my perfered method of reading. The characters are all likeable and well developed. The world created by Snyder is interesting and I found myself wrapped up in it. I listened to the next 2 books soon after this one. I was sorry when it ended but was satisfied with it. I am hoping for more books in this series. If you go to the author's web site she has posted additional short stories about the supporting characters. The narrator did a good job and changed the characters voices well.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Monica
  • Canonsburg, PA, USA
  • 11-09-05


I loved this book. I especially loved the reader, Gabra Zackman. She really brought the book to life, had great character voices, had a wonderful voice. She was just perfect for this book.

If you're looking for something delightful and fun, this is the book for you.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Book! Great Series!

I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I seldom read science fiction, but the reviews for this series were intriguing so I took a chance. Give it a try. I used my credits on the first two and then ended up buying the third book in the series because I was too impatient to wait for next months credits! I agree with other reviewers that the first book was the best, but all three are well worth reading. The narrator made each character come to life. It was a good escape from reality. I'm sad because there isn't another book in the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


My daughter and I listened to this book while we were driving from Colorado to Michigan. When we stopped for the night, we couldn't wait to hit the road the next day to find out what was going to happen next!

The story was well read, and the different voice characterizations ensured we never got confused or wondered who was doing what. Our road trip flew by. We can't wait to take the same trip this coming summer and listen to the next book, Magic Study.

I could not rate this book with 5 stars because of one thing. The descriptions included even the smallest detail and were somewhat tedious; however, had I been reading the book, I would have skimmed over most of these. I would not have been as happy with an abridged format of the book though, so just be prepared to hear some looooong descriptions!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful