24 November 2008

Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Note: Magic Study is the second in a trilogy. This review assumes you've read the first book, Poison Study. For my recommendation, skip to after the asterisks.

Yelena is on her way home to Sitia to meet her family after a fourteen-year separation. Because she was kidnapped at the age of six, she has no memory of her early childhood. The trip is bittersweet: Although she will soon know what it is like to have a family and a clan, Yelena has left her lover, Valeck, and friends Ari and Janco behind. And once she's seen her homeland, she will leave it to enroll in the magic school at the Citadel to study with her mentor, Irys.

Life in the south is not good for Yelena. While she is learning to hone her magic skills and is discovering some of her talents, she is met with hostility--even from her older brother, Lief--and is accused of being a spy for Ixia. Her classmates and teachers are jealous of her skills, a group of rebels are threatening to invade the north, young girls are being raped and murdered, and Yelena is being stalked by at least one enemy. She barely has a peaceful moment, and her burdens are heavy.

* * * * *
Magic Study focuses on a transition in Yelena's life, from enslaved child to independent woman. The exploration of her personality, magical abilities, and relationships with others is strong. Unfortunately, many of the characters introduced in this book seem to lack depth. I was disappointed that her family was not more fully developed. I'm not sure I understand Yelena's mother and her odd behavior, and Lief's motives were weak. Teachers at the Citadel seem to be either good or bad, and we don't learn much about them.

On the other hand, I like the spirited, strong Yelena and will definitely finish off the trilogy (with Fire Study). This is not a complex fantasy world filled with numerous creatures and cultures. Instead the books tell the story of one young woman and her struggles to overcome adversity and find her place in the world.

Magic Study could have used a stronger editor; the abundance of similes is sometimes annoying. In this Harlequin publication, romance is neither in the forefront nor excessive.

I've listened to the first two entries in the trilogy via audiobooks, read by Gabra Zackman. The narration is clear and nicely done.

Published by Harlequin, 2007
ISBN-13: 9780778323921
Challenge: 25 Books
Rating C


Nely 11/24/08, 10:39 AM  

OOh, these sound like fun. I've never heard of them. I'm jotting the names down to look into them. Thanks for the review.

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