Author: Maria V. Snyder
Age Level: YA and older
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 Dusté 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.
I've had this book as well as the the other two in this 3 book series since 2010. Back when I was out of school for a year and reading like a mad woman, I purchased a large quantity of books that I had read good reviews about from fellow bloggers, books that had been suggested to me by family and friends, and just books that piqued my interest. This series was brought to my attention by my beautiful cousins - who like me are reading obsessed. Since the blog has been inactive I've still been reading, just not in the quantities that I once read. So life resumed and few books had been purchased and read, however I was struggling to find time to dedicate to my love of literature and the world in which surrounds it. A lot of that had to do with going back to school and getting my Honours English BA. It really limited the time I had to read just for fun, which - although beyond gratifying to receive my degree - sad. So with that, my first review is of a book that I had forgot I owned but glad to rediscover its existence.
This novel by Maria V. Snyder was almost like nothing I have ever read or come across in all of my literary adventures. The novel begins with our heroine, Yelena, thrown in a dungeon about to lose a year long battle for her life. From the beginning, Yelena must endure obstacles that would ruin the soul and destroy the body. Her fragile state is hard to endure for the first few chapters. As you read on you soon come to realize that this heroine is tough, strong, and motivated to not let her past and current situation define who she is. The strength written in Yelena's character is so motivating, it made me more mentally aware that strength within myself and others. We might just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
As a food taster we get to see Yelena battle for her life every day and never give up the fight. With each bite she takes her life is on the line. But it is through the strength she gets from this battle that she is able to learn how to stand up for herself. She meets new people who become friends and she builds a life out of the impossible.
The character of Valek is one of mystery. You never know what he is planning, what his motives are and if he really cares for Yelena or if he is just bound to her by duty and honour. He is a well written enigma that you want to hate throughout the novel, but you just can't. He ends up being a very lovable character. All of us would be so lucky to have the loyalty and heart of someone like Valek in our lives.
The character development has been done extremely well by Maria V.Snyder Yelena begins as a fragile, barely there girl who grows into a strong and ambitious woman. The obstacles placed in her way cause many problems for the young heroine but never does she let those hindrances beat her.
This book left me craving more. I was so engrossed with the plot and characters that I read through the night to finish. Something I haven't done in a long time. As images of poison and magic swirled around in my dreams, I knew it wasn't going to take long for me to finish this series.
Yelena is a heroine that girls will respect. She jumps off of the pages to tell us all - as women (and as men) - that we can do anything and everything if we put our minds to it. There is an inner strength in all women, we just need to realize it so it will shine through. Yelena did this for me.
I highly recommend this book for magic lovers and people who just want an adventure with one tough chick!