ARC Review: Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1) by Maria V. Snyder
I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.
Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Soulfinders #1
Published by: Mira on February 24th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Magic, YA
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
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.
Shadow Study is the first book in an all new series by Maria V. Snyder. Well, maybe not entirely new. The Soulfinder series is a spinoff of Snyder’s Study series. The Soulfinder series follows Yelena, Valek, and other familiar faces from the Study series. Shadow Study is a great adventure story with plenty of magic, action, and mayhem.
Shadow Study follows three main characters: Yelena, Valek, and Janco, each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character. After taking a small vacation, Valek must return to Ixia, where he is the Commander’s head of security. Shortly after his departure, Yelena discovers her magic has been blocked. Now that she’s vulnerable, she’s in more danger than ever before. On top of Yelena’s blocked magic, there are smuggling operations that the Commander wants taken care of, and soon.
First of all, while this is technically the first book in a new series, the fact that it’s a spinoff of another series made it a little difficult to get into at first. In the acknowledgements section, Snyder mentions that she made sure that newcomers wouldn’t be confused going into this book, but I don’t know if I necessarily agree with her. The characters make a lot of references to events that have taken place in the past. Whether the events took place in the Study series, or in the six year gap between the end of the Study series and the Soulfinder series, I’m not entirely sure. But it was kind of difficult for me to form an attachment to the characters because it was clear that this wasn’t supposed to be the first time the reader meets everyone.
That being said, I was still able to enjoy the story a lot. I love a good fantasy story, and Shadow Study didn’t disappoint. Yelena was a pretty good main character to follow. Her intentions are always honorable, and she doesn’t care about putting herself in danger in order to make sure her friends and family are safe, even without her magic to protect her. Valek was also a good protagonist; his were my favorite chapters to read. He had a lot of flashbacks to when he was training to become an assassin, which were really interesting to read about.
The fact that Janco was a main character was a little confusing to me. He’s a fun character, a good warrior with a really good sense humor that I enjoyed, but he felt out of place as someone whose point of view we get in the chapters. Something else that bothered me a little bit was the fact that while the book is technically told from three different perspectives, Yelena’s chapters were the only ones told in first person while Valek’s and Janco’s were told in third person. Just a little pet peeve, but I wish they all would have been first person, or just left out the perspectives and kept the whole thing third person omniscient.
Other than the inconsistent points of view, I felt like the book was really well written. It didn’t lull in any points, although I did sometimes find myself confused because it seemed as though the book kind of jumped. Or I had to remember what was going on with a specific character when the chapters changed, and sometimes that took me a second.
I am giving Shadow Study 4 out of 5 controllers. Despite the fact that I’m really nitpicky, I did really enjoy this story a lot. I think newcomers to the series will enjoy it as well, but I think to get the full effect it might be best to read the Study series first.