Title: Shadow Study [Study #4] [Soulfinders #1]
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
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.
*Spoilers from the first three books will be present, ratings are at the bottom if you just want to know what I thought of it overall*
I have mixed feelings about this book. I fell in love with the Study series back in 2010 or 2011, and when I found out that there would be a new adventure for Yelena, Valek, Ari, and Janco, I fangirled for a good few weeks (and then I noticed the release date and cried, but that’s besides the point). I loved Poison Study, but the next two books disappointed me [Magic Study] [Fire Study]. Not that they weren’t interesting, but the characters kind of let me down. This book, unfortunately followed that pattern.
I loved that this book finally gave a peak into Valek’s past. This was probably the most captivating part of the novel. Valek’s past has always been hidden in the shadows, more so than him, and his story was probably what kept me constantly reading the book. Every time his part popped up, I’d sit up straighter and give the book my full attention, because oh my goodness, it was amazing. Gah, reading about him training and his life in general is the best thing ever. And how he met the Commander! AH. It was awesome. I’d actually recommend the book for old and new fans, JUST for Valek’s story. You have to admit, you’re curious too.
Then there was Yelena. I love her. Don’t get me wrong. But I hate that since she got her magic she’s become a very dependent character. It’s like all of her kickass training and stuff got tossed out the window the minute she found out that she has magical powers. I hate it. And I hated it especially in this book. As stated in the synopsis, her magic is blocked, and she becomes this weak girl. She’s mopey, and sad, and “vulnerable”. Yet, in the first book she was kickass and amazing. She doesn’t even try now. No more warm-ups and training for her. It’s annoying. that’s what it is. Reading about her worrying over her powers drive me insane. I know that she’s worried about some things, like fire world stuff, and getting like barraged with magic mojo, but when it comes to a physical fight, she just can’t and that bothers me beyond reason. She was probably the let down for me in this book, and that sucks.
Janco and Ari are awesome as always, and I really love the new badass touch the new characters add to the story. At least someone can hold their own in a fight. They’re story provides another hint of mystery and intrigue to the story, as well as general confusion and fascination. I love the final twist within their story. It really makes you question loyalties and who’s trustworthy and it’s perfect.
As per usual, her world building was wonderful. While I would’ve liked a little more of it, just to refresh my memory after all these years, it was a perfect amount if you were to read the series consecutively, without pause. I’ve missed the lands of Ixia and Sitia, and I know I’ll miss them just as much as I wait for the next book to come out…
All and all, not my favourite of the series, but not a bad start to the new segment of it. Valek’s story honestly makes the book, and if you don’t want to read it for any other reason, read it for Valek, and you won’t regret it.
World Building: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.23/5
eARC obtained via Mira via Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.