Tag Archives: Fantasy

Poison Study : Maria V. Snyder

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Why the hell was this in the romance section?

Okay, okay…  There’s a romance in it.  It is first hinted at approximately 3/4 of the way through.

But it’s not a book that focuses on the romantic entanglements of the main character.  It’s a book about politics and magic.  It’s as much adventure, mystery, and fantasy.

Poison Study is not a romance.

The Good

This is a well-told story.  You get a good feel of the characters, the world, and the environment without feeling like you’re drowning in info-dump.  The characters are solid and feel like their lives also exist beyond the page.  The main character’s life sucks, but she takes full responsibility for her actions which led to that point.  When she goes emo, she forces herself out of it, meaning the reader isn’t subjected to pages and pages of angst and woe.  Also, as the first book in a trilogy, the balance of “wrapped up” vs “loose ends” is well done.

The Less-Good

Again, there’s not much I can put my finger on and say “this is bad.”  I retain my small “ugh” for all first-person narratives.  Also, relating to the character’s life sucking… this book deals fairly frankly (though not terribly explicitly) with all the bad things which can happen to a 17 year old female living in the household of a nobleman with no morals or ethics, and the results thereof.  As such, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.

The Bottom Line

Definitely worth the price, and I’m looking forward to wading into the local Barnes and Noble and hitting up the romance section for the next one.  I’m also mentally placing Maria V. Snyder on my list of authors to watch.  4/5.

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Beauty : Robin McKinley

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Beauty is actually the chronological first of Robin McKinley’s retellings of Beauty and the Beast.  It was first published in 1978, but had been out of print until recently, meaning it was the second version of hers I read.

The Good

Robin McKinley is probably my favorite author at current.  I love fairy tales, and I especially love anyone who can put new and interesting spins on them (something Ms McKinley has rather a lot of experience with.)  This book in a lot of ways was exactly what I expected, a very solidly-written piece.  Comfortable enough to be familiar, novel enough to be interesting.

The Less-Good

There’s not really a bad here.  Beauty was her first book, and it shows at several points throughout the narrative.  There are hints of the writer she will become, but for the main, it’s a very standard retelling of an old familiar story.  It’s neither as dark, nor as magical as her later stories get.  My main complaint was in the pacing.  The first half of the book was taken up entirely by the story of Beauty, her father and sisters, and her life in the country.  The main focus of the book, Beauty and the Beast, only had half the book to really bloom.

The Bottom Line

Robin McKinley remains one of my favorite authors.  Beauty and the Beast remains one of my favorite fairy tales.  Both of these work in the favor of this book.  I don’t consider the money I spent on it wasted, though it is by far less enjoyable a read, to me, than her others.  3/5.