Let’s start with some background, shall we?
I bought all six books of the Poison Study series on a whim last summer because I had a feeling that I would probably love it. Alas, here I was six months later and I hadn’t even started them… I think the prospect of reading six books felt a bit daunting so I kept putting it off. Last night, however, I finally grabbed some blankets, pillows and a mug of coffee and settled down for an evening of reading and finished the whole bloody thing!
I wanted to review it for you but beware spoilers ahead.
Unfortunately, this book should come with some serious trigger warnings for torture, abuse, and rape. These parts were really hard to read. As we progress through this story, our main charter, Yelena, slowly reflects on the horrors of her past. This culminates in an especially sad moment when she reveals what we all knew was coming – she was raped. This awful moment is made even worse by the fact that she knew it was coming.
There’s a moment in the book when Yelena reveals that she had hidden a knife under the bed of her abuser because she knew that was where she would be when she would need it. Even though you know what she’s about to tell you, and it isn’t nearly as graphic as it could have been (this is a YA I believe?) it is still really hard to stomach.
Another trigger warning
There should also be a slight trigger warning for domestic abuse. Unfortunately, there’s a moment, early on in the story when Valek (our main love interest) gets angry at Yelena and throws a rock at her. Yelena is shocked by this but doesn’t say anything to defend herself. However, next time he has a rock in his hand and seems slightly agitated she makes herself as small a target as possible, which quite frankly is bloody awful to read.
Despite this singular moment, the romance between Valek and Yelena builds organically and naturally. Valek builds an honest respect and love for Yelena that feels natural and quite lovely at times. I think the romance surprised him most of all.
I like how erudite she is and how people don’t expect much of her. Yelena constantly surprises everyone with her intelligence, quick wit and ability to learn exceptionally fast. Go on, girl!
Ari and Janco are just lovely! She wins their respect after a rather bizarrely staged game of cat and mouse in the surrounding forests, and they become loyal friends. This brotherly energy (times two) is great because it’s exactly the type of relationship that Yelena needs – full of banter, quick wit, and respect.
The ending was totally meh. One of the only problems with YA fantasy is that you can usually guess the ending. When a book has five sequels it’s even more obvious that the two love interests will be separated by the end of the book or there will be rumblings of a love triangle to keep the tension alive. I am still interested to see where this story takes me though…