Series: Soulfinder, Study
Published by Harlequin on February 24, 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, High Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Amazon • Book Depository •
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.
Oh my gosh. The Study series. The Study series are one of my absolute favorite series, and I can’t being to tell you how much I adore Valek and Yelena. The thought of a spin off series–with the same main characters–was absolutely one of the best things I ever could’ve imagined. There was no way this book could’ve disappointed.
Except it kind of did. It wasn’t bad at all–I loved reading the book, honestly. It just wasn’t as amazing as I’d imagined to be and, with the high expectations I had, Shadow Study fell a bit flat.
Oh my God, though. It was amazing coming back to this world of magic and conspiracies and Soulfinders and Sandseed horses and swoony assassins who capture your heart from the first page. All my favorite characters were back (and as sassy as ever) and I just fell in love with them all over again, right from the first page.
Although, we do see a new character. I won’t say much about her, but she’s pretty badass and I kind of love her. We don’t learn a lot about her, but her attitude reminds me of another assassin from a certain book called Throne of Glass–always a good thing.
On the subject of characters–Valek. Valek’s always been the mysterious character throughout all the books and then–then, there are chapters from his POV that just make the book. Even better? Throughout all of his chapters, there are flashbacks to his teen years when he was training to kill the king, when he met Ambrose, and then the dirty deed itself. It’s absolutely fascinating and probably one of my favorite parts about the entire novel. Getting a peek at Valek’s past and what made him him is practically priceless.
Practically priceless. What’s actually priceless? Yelena and Valek. Despite the fact that they’re far apart the majority of the time, they’re so adorable when they think of each other. I definitely wish I had gotten to see them together though. Despite one or two scenes, they barely interact and dammit, I want the romance.
Then the plot. There’s danger. Everywhere. Literally everywhere. Yelena can barely move without fear of being killed one way or another…and yet, somehow, the plot was a bit lacking for me. I never really felt the high stakes or the tension in the story, and honestly I felt a bit detached despite adoring all these characters. The pacing was a bit off–slow in some parts, unbearably fast in others–to the point where I honestly had no idea what the heck was happening.
Here’s what bothered me the most: the writing.
I know. What the hell? I loved Snyder’s writing in the first 3 books in the Study series. It’s just…there were so many modern references. Too many modern references. At one point, the phrase “Ari, you the man.” came up. It was just those small things that kind of irritated me and got this book from a 4 to a 3.5 star. It’s the little things guys.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely–if you’ve read the Glass and Study series. If you haven’t, Shadow Study is going to be awfully confusing, despite attempts to bring readers up to date. (A valiant effort, but with so much amazingness packed into the previous series, that’s kind of impossible.) I did find faults with the story and I didn’t exactly adore it as much as I’d wanted to–but damn. Yelena and Valek.
Also, the realization that Yelena and Valek are somewhere in their later 30s. Oh. My. God. Why can’t they just get married, have a baby, and live in peace. Or even just live.