Title: Magic Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series Status: 2nd book in the Study Trilogy/Series
# of pages: 440
My rating: 4/5 stars
*Note this is not the first book in the series and synopsis/review may contain spoilers for book one *
You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster…
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better…
Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training—especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies…
Much like with Poison Study I found myself really enjoying this next installment in the series but not quite as much.
Starting with what I really enjoyed was how Yelena grows in her power and self confidence. With this new installment she is back in Sitia and is learning about her past and having to deal with a lot that she wasn’t expecting. Yelena really grows in this book and manages to figure out a lot of things about herself without losing who she is. Her powers put her in a position of power but instead of just jumping into it like a lot of main characters she manages to *sometimes* exercise restraint and at least try to think through the best options.
Unfortunately some of the issues I had were that Snyder doesn’t really address the (spoiler warning) rape scenes in this book. At the end of the last book we learn that Reyad not only tortured Yelena for large portions of her life but also raped her right before she kills him. In this new book there is a character who is also raped that Yelena has to use her magic to try and help by looking into her mind and ultimately seeing parts of this rape. I found this problematic since there is only one small scene where Yelena “deals” with overcoming that she has been raped and it was heavily glossed over. I don’t know the reasoning behind why Yelena’s past was brought up to be horrific but no longer affects her in the second book but it felt like an issue. She has no real PTSD, other than distrust of people (which still seems selective), and acts like it never even happened until it’s imperative to the plot. (spoiler ending)
Following that issue a smaller issue I had was the relationship which felt like it was halted during this book. While the characters in the relationship are separated at the end of the last book and this one has them separated for a rather large portion, when they meet back up again it felt like they didn’t really do much. It also bothered me that the love interest only shows up in the story when needed and he is never there for something else, even though he is a total badass that could have had a side plot to flesh his character out some.
While I had those issues though I really loved the magic and world building that happened in this installment and getting to see Sitia’s development and explanation as a country was great. I really enjoyed that this book took time to develop their country and government system as much as Ixia so that both are well rounded and understood.
A final thing that may be a spoiler (not going to name names) is that I don’t see this mentioned in many reviews but there is a somewhat main character in the story that is transgender which is kind of a spoiler for a part of book one but without the name I think it would be hard to figure out. Anyways this character isn’t super developed yet since we are just beginning to see the development take place but I am excited to see where this goes and want there to be more about them in Fire Study.
Overall I really enjoyed this book even though it fell under middle book syndrome and had some spoiler specific issues it was still a great read and I cannot wait to start the third one.