So, since I've neglected to do this review for four months, my thoughts on this book may have changed and altered since the day I read it. But I'll have you know, as an adult fantasy series, this book was a pretty good introduction to the Study trilogy.
Yelena, on trial for [something I forgot], is offered two choices: to be executed, or to serve as the Commander's poison taster. She decides the latter, but what seems to her would be a simple job proves to be much, much more hectic--especially when dangers of magicians and evil masters loom over her presence. What secrets will she uncover about her past? Will she able to survive the looming dangers?
Yelena is a pretty kickass heroine. She's survived rape, beatings, and other unnameable things done to her, which have made her into a tough block of steel. So while these things may make others whine and weak, these encounters make Yelena the opposite--strong, and not trusting of anyone.
I guess that's what I really liked about Yelena: She wasn't too trusting, she wasn't gullible, and she didn't do anything too drastic. When she met Valek, she wasn't struck by how beautiful he was; instead, she was afraid of him. She was cautious of everyone; and ever so slowly let down her guard in front of a few people, knowing who to trust and who not to.
I never once felt irritated by any of Yelena's decisions; she was, in a way, a perfect really great heroine. She didn't like her infatuation with Valek get in way with her goals and dreams; she was loyal to all her friends, including famous Ari and Janco; & she turned her fears into her passions.
The pacing was pretty good; I didn't feel very bored, but there wasn't much action anyway. The romance wasn't also gag-worthy--it developed slowly and gradually. No insta-love (thank God), and no love at first sight.
Now. If you will excuse me, I'm going to go read some Study series fanfiction. Toodles.