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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review: Shadow Study (Soulfinders) by Maria V. Snyder

This is a wonderful revisit with great characters and a worthy addition to the series!
Shadow Study (Soulfinders)
by Maria V. Snyder
  • File Size: 1120 KB
  • Print Length: 413 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0778317404
  • Publisher: MIRA (March 1, 2015)
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.
Once, only her own life hung in the balance…
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.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…

Yelena is a Sitian with magic abilities - in fact, she is a Soulfinder which is rare and dangerous. She delivers souls to their rightful destination - peace or hell. Yelena didn’t know about her own talents until she began working as the poison taster as a prisoner under Valek’s authority. Yelena has faced many dangers and survived through the help of magic, her own wits and sometimes Valek and friends.

Valek is an Ixian assassin. He has the unusual trait of being immune to magic which helped make him extremely successful and dangerous. Initially Valek and Yelena were worlds apart. Presumably his position in Ixia, where his Commander forbids magic, kept them apart. Then Yelena was assigned as a liaison between the communities and a personal relationship developed.

They both have made many enemies but for the most part, those who are not afraid of Yelena’s powers are afraid of her ‘mate’ Valek’s abilities. Yet there are those who want to hinder her even at the risk of angering him.

While visiting with Valek for a brief private rendezvous Yelena is shot with an unknown poison. She is able to remove the toxin with her healing skills and Valek thinks she is all right as he returns to Ixiaa at the call of his commander. But Yelena suffers an extreme fever and chills. When she awakens she discovers her magic is completely gone. One of the immediate loses she feels is the inability to communicate telepathically with her Sandseed horse, Kiki. Fortunately Kiki is a brilliant animal and understands Yelena’s needs.

Yelena and Kiki return to Sitia where she can seek aid from the master magicians and her brother. They try to protect her secret as they research the nature of the poison and how to cure her. They proceed on to seek the help of Opal and Devlin, two other friends who experienced the loss of the their magic in the past (Glass Series).

Meanwhile Valek finds a young assassin sneaking into his commander’s quarters and challenging for his position. Rather than imprison her they end up placing her on Valek's team for training and assignment. Valek and his new recruit are assigned to work with Janco and Ari to uncover and stop a smuggler’s ring.

The wonderful thing about Ms. Snyder’s writing is she manages to create a vested interest in her characters. The author portrays events from alternating characters to help the forward motion of the plot that ultimately brings them together to face their enemies. I enjoyed how the author also follows Valek’s memories filling in his childhood background that led him to become an assassin. There was a very short time of slower pacing in the middle of the book but it picked up quickly.

It has been a number of years since I read and loved the Study trilogy - now dubbed the Soulfinders series as it continues. Yelena and Valek appeared as secondary characters in the Glass series but it is great to have them back with their own issues again. In a world of conflicting interests and power hungry leaders there are plenty of issues regarding betrayal and who can be trusted. The ending of this book may come as a surprise to readers (I guessed it early on) but issues are left open thereby promising more stories to come!

This can be read alone but I highly recommend reading the books in order. Not only will you get to know the characters but you will get to enjoy their dangerous adventures.

I selected this at NetGalley for an honest review. It qualifies for NetGalley Challenge.

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