Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

"The food taster is paid in advance. How much is your life worth?"

When faced with a choice between being executed or becoming a food taster, Yelena elects to stay alive for as long as possible. She is thrown into a job where she is expected to identify poisons in the food meant for the Commander, who is the leader of Ixia.

I loved this book. I don't know whether it was the questionable morality, the blurred lines between right and wrong, or the characters that kept me riveted until the end. This book isn't overly complex, but it was still a joy to read.

Yelena is a self-confessed murderer. Her murder of General Brazell's son Reyad has made her some dangerous enemies who wish to see her executed rather than living relatively comfortably as the Commander's food taster. Her past is horrific, lending some more depth to her character, as well as providing a motive for her murder. It seems I've been lucky in reading about strong heroines these days. Yelena is dedicated, wants to learn how to fight for herself, and she is very smart.

I also really enjoyed Valek's character. He acts as the spymaster for Commander, and is basically the one who 'hires' Yelena. He is both an unrepentant assassin and a caring spymaster. I liked hearing about his back story and the substance it added to his character. He was interesting and intriguing, and extremely intelligent. Yum!

While I enjoyed the pace of the plot, and the overall plot for the most part, there were some scenes that could have been fleshed out a bit more to make the story more believable. I'll put these under spoiler tabs so no one is shocked! (view spoiler)

Other than that, a very enjoyable novel. I couldn't stop reading. Definitely moving on to the next one.