Wednesday, 11 March 2015 / No comments

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Shadow Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley


Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she’d survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands — and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek’s job — and his life — are in danger. 

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.

I was so excited when I saw this title. I loved the earlier books in the series. Yelana is a great character and she has really grown and developed during the course of the books. I hadn't, however, read the Opal Cowan books (Sea Glass, etc) and as the characters from those books play a pretty major role in this one, I thought I'd better go back and read them before starting Shadow Study.

As a consequence, I read the three Opal books inside a week, and was a bit worn out by the time I got to this one.

The events in this book take place several years after the last Study book. Yelena and Valek are well established in their respective roles and manage to spend quality time together in between assignments. However, when Yelena is attacked by a mystery assailant, she loses her magic. Can she cope without it after being reliant on it for so long? Meanwhile, in Ixia, the political climate is shifting and it seems that Valek must prove himself once again.

I really do love the world that Maria V. Snyder has created with these books and we get to see all our favourites in Shadow Study. Ari and Janco play crucial roles, and not only do we get lots of Valek, we actually get chapters written from his POV. We see the delicate nature of his relationship with the Commander, as well as learning more about his childhood and how he became the most feared assassin in the land. There are new characters as well as old favourites. Onora is an interesting addition, and I'm looking forward to seeing what becomes of her.

The question I do have about this book is its intended audience. It's not a YA book. The characters are now firmly entrenched in adulthood. I am not sure whether this book would appeal to a young audience as well as the first books did. Of course, for those who read and loved the original Study books and are now a bit older, the book is perfectly pitched.

I loved the ending, and totally didn't see it coming. I can't wait for the next one!

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