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Monday, February 23, 2015

Early Review: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Shadow Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Soulfinders, book 1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: MIRA (February 24th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
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…
Shadow Study is the first book in the Soulfinders series by Maria V. Snyder. It’s also the fourth book in the Study series and the seventh book in The Chronicles of Ixia series… I’m not kidding you.

For years I had heard great things about the Study series, but for some reason I never made the time read it. Then, one day I saw Shadow Study available for review; it was the first book in a new series in the same world of Study series, so I thought it was the perfect chance to discover what all the hype about Study series really was.
After I received Shadow Study I learned is was not only the first book in a new series, it was also the fourth book in the Study series. *headdesk* I had a problem in my hands; I don’t like to read series out of order because I hate to be lost when reading a book. With nothing else to do, I decided to listen to the audiobooks of Study series before reading Shadow Study. That was actually good. I loved first book (Poison study). I liked second book (Magic Study) and I liked less third book (Fire Study), but in general they were pretty good.
Thinking I had my bases cover I dug into Shadow Study… but after reading couple of chapters I was lost. How was that possible? How I didn’t know what they were talking about if I had listened to the Study series just days before? So, I did some research and learned that Shadow Study was also the seventh book in The Chronicles of Ixia series. What!? The what!? o_0 (That was my reaction). The Chronicles of Ixia series is a combination of the Study series and the Glass series. I never heard of the Glass series before then. *headdesk* With nothing else to do I kept reading… wishing I knew what they were talking about. The worst part was I knew some of the characters because of Study series, but I didn’t know about the events they were talking about. Maybe it would have been better if I had not listened to the Study series… I don’t know.

I won’t say much about the story because the blurb explains well what Shadow Study is about. The only things I will add are that in Shadow Study we get three different points of view, Yelena, Valek and Janco’s and at times I felt Shadow Study was more Valek’s book than Yelena’s. Why? Because we get to see Valek’s past, how he became an assassin, how he killed the king, and how he became the Commander’s chief of security. If I’m honest I found his parts more interesting than Yelena’s… and couple of times I skipped Yelena’s and Janco’s chapters to read Valek’s… after, I went back to read the chapters I skipped because I didn’t want to be more lost.

In this installment Yelena is dealing with the loss of her magic and it is not easy for her to deal with that loss. Six years have passed since the events in the Study series, but Yelena is still making the same mistakes she did when she was a lot younger. She still runs unprepared into unknown situations where she ends up capture and in need of rescuing. After six years I expected some character growth and more maturity on her part, sadly that wasn’t the case. I felt as if I was reading about the same young girl from the Study series instead of the mature woman (late 20s) she is supposed to be.

I liked Valek and I liked learning about his past; but despite liking him I can’t understand his complete devotion and loyalty towards the Commander when it is obvious the Commander doesn’t reciprocate it. I actually felt bad for him for his inner struggles, but I think he is passed time to man up and decide where his heart belongs.

Although I liked getting Janco’s point of view I thought it was a bit pointless. It felt as if his point of view was included just to give more information about a new character, Onora. The problem is that even though Janco is a good character he is a lot better when he is with Ari. Together they are a riot, apart… they are okay.

There is almost no world building in Shadow Study. I think Snyder thought she explained the world in previous books and decided to not expand it in this installment. I think that is going to be a big problem for new readers.

In Shadow Study there are intrigues and secrets galore, some of those secrets are discovered, but many questions remain unanswered, almost all of them have to do with the Commander and his plans. The end is kind of a small cliffhanger, but at the same time it isn’t because I suspected it from the very beginning. I even think that is the reason behind the loss of Yelena’s magic. Despite the cliffy end I don’t think I will continue with this series because if I’m honest I really don’t care about Yelena. I think our short relationship has run its course and has come to an end.

My Verdict: 3 Paws
Other books in the series
Poison Study
Magic Study
Fire Study
Storm Glass
Sea Glass
Spy Glass
Shadow Study (February 24th)
Night Study (2016)
Dawn Study (TBA)

Other reviews Goodreads


  1. I didn't know that there was so much cross over in Snyder's series. Talk about confusing! If your first paragraph hadn't succeeded in turning me off from this one, the rest of your review certainly would have. Yelena can go find another reader to annoy.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

  2. I liked book 1, book 2 was ok,hated book 3. As for worldbuilding..can't remember much so maybe she never truly explained

  3. I didn't read the parent series. Do I have to before I jump into this?

  4. I've read all the previous books and must admit I loved this one. I did pay more attention to the Valek chapters than the rest and agree that Janco needs Ari to get the full effect

  5. Oh, BOO. This is not good news. 1. Cliffhanger, and 2. So over it who cares about cliffhanger? o.O


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