Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Published: 2005, Luna
I'm having such good luck with books right now! This one was a recommendation from Samantha. Here is a link to her very good review.
This is a really good book. I loved it. *sigh* And it's the first in a trilogy! Oh, how I love a good trilogy.
Yelena is a young woman who's been convicted of murder and sentenced with death. As an alternative to the noose, she is offered the job of food taster to the Commander. He is the leader of the military government which is currently in power in this world, and is very wary of being poisoned to death. Even though she knows that the life expectancy of the food taster is very short, Yelena agrees. She is trained in the various types of poisons and how to identify them by a man named Valek, who is the cheif advisor to the Commander.
I was excitedly telling Twin about the plot of this book. I got to this point and looked at her like, isn't that cool? And she says, "So what, that's it? This girl just tastes the guy's food for poison? Here's dinner. Oh, phew, she's still alive. No poison this time." And I realized that it does sound sort of lame if you put it like that. But it's not at all! Yelena's got many enemies to avoid (including the father of the man she killed, who obviously wants to revenge), burgeoning magical abilities that she doesn't understand and can't control, and an escape plan to put into action.
It's very exciting. I couldn't put it down, and when I finished it I went right onto Amazon and pre-ordered the next book in the series, Magic Study, which is out Oct 1. Squeee!
Yelena is a wonderful character--such a survivor. A kick-ass kind of heroine. She has not had an easy life, but she just keeps going, salvaging whatever she can to keep alive. But she's never annoyingly martyr-ish. She is not infallible, but honestly flawed which is very endearing. Lots of very interesting secondary characters too.
And the love story, while subtle, is so sweet. I love romances where the H/H start out as enemies, or in this case maybe not enemies, but they are at least wary of each other. As they get to know each other, they slowly come to respect and trust the other. And it creeps up on them so slowly that they barely recognize it at first. And I have to say that it was refreshing to read a completely PG book. In these days of racier and racier books, it was a nice change of pace. Now that I think about it, aside from a few violent scenes and the talk of rape, it could have been a YA book.
I've been having such good luck with books, I'm afraid to start anything else. This run of excellent books can't go on. The next one's bound to be a rotter.