Early Book Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder is the first book in the Soulfinders series, or you could consider it The Chronicles of Ixia number 7 or book number four in the Study series. each sequence is correct, it is just dependent on how far and which Snyder books you have read. It is currently scheduled for release on February 24 2015. As a disclaimer; I am a fangirl for Snyder and the Study series in particular. I did a little dance when I saw this book was under contract- and feel the same way after reading it and knowing that more is coming!

Yelena was much happier as a poison taster, when only her life was dependent of her choices. But she has become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia, using her magic to keep the peace in both lands while protecting her relationship with Valek. Suddenly, she is beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger as he returns to the castle where the Commander is keeping secrets and a young hotshot is looking to take his place. 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.

Shadow Study returns to the pace and quality that fans will remember from the book that started it all, Poison Study. Readers get to see the world through the alternating viewpoints of Yelena, Valek, and Janco. Yelena and Valek are expecting some quality alone time, instead Yelena is attacked and Valek needs to return to the commander asap. This begins each of their hard times. Yelena loses her magic, and her connection to the world around her. she is vulnerable and does not know who she can trust and how she might put others at risk. She needs to find out what has blocked her magic, who attacked her, and what larger plots put her and those she cares about at risk. Meanwhile Valek discovers that the Commander is keeping secrets and that many things have changed. He needs to protect himself, his position, and try not to let his worry over Yelena overcome him. Janco and crew need to deal with new recruits and trying to do their own jobs. Each journey is intertwined in complex pattern, and it is only when we see all the parts that the characters and readers can get an idea of the big picture.  I really enjoyed getting into Janco's head, and in the backstory that we get for Valek through his memories. my only issue here is that I need to wait until 2016 to get my hands on the next book Night Study.

Okay, after reading this I am an even bigger fan of Snyder because Yelena and Valek are still one of my favorite book couples, and we get a glimpse of Valek's training. Shadow Study is one of her great books, and I hope Night Study continues the trend. I consider this book a must read for Snyder fans, but recommend starting at the beginning with Poison Study for all newcomers. Snyder is up at the top of my recommended authors to readers, next to Tamora Pierce, for a great fantasy read with action, suspense, and romance that is still accessible and acceptable reading for mature middle grade, young adult, and adult readers.

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