Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with it’s lovable characters and exciting plot. I was a little worried when I began it because I had heard such rave review and I was concerned that my expectations might be a bit too high going into it. But I still loved it!
Let’s begin with characters. Yelena was such a fun perspective to read from. What made her so interesting was her resolve that she was probably going to die – I mean, there were so many likely life threatening aspects to her situation(s). So it was really interesting to watch her negotiate the familiar idea of death with her new-forming relationships and hope of survival. My only complaint with her was that she did suffer from the ‘instant master’ complex. By this I mean that she began as a physically weak girl but with a few months of combat training, she was suddenly a better fighter than a good majority of men and women who had spent decades training. I mean, yeah, it was fun to watch and root her on, but it irked me ever so slightly.
Valek was also a great character because I just couldn’t quite get a beat on him yet I was really compelled to want to like him. Between his bad-ass profession, hobbies, and relationship with the court, he was that lovable near all-powerful guy that you just love to love. Janco and Ari were equally as wonderful. Their compassion, determination, sarcasm, and all-round positive attitudes worked really well with the relatively gloomy backdrop to the story.
The plot itself was just great. I was afraid that it might drag a little since it begins with Yelena in a dungeon, but the pacing is really fast throughout and it is rarely ever a dull moment. The settings change and the time passes seamlessly, and you always feel like the story is progressing even if you don’t know exactly what it’s progressing towards. I think that part of what makes this story so fast paced is the number of clear puzzles presented in the plot which needed to be solved: Who’s that? Why did they try and kill her? What are thoooooose? Although I did guess one of the ‘twists’ right away, it did not hinder my enjoyment of the story in the slightest.
Overall a great start to the series with a very satisfying ending, leaving just enough to question so that I’m interested in the next book. I just hope that we get to see more of the world in this next book!