REVIEW: Magic Study by Maria Snyder

Dear Ms. Snyder:

Magic StudyI think your cover depicts the exact problems I had with this book: It looks like a modern girl dressed up in a costume and plunked down in a fantasy setting. Also, while this cover is beautiful, it is not the same woman that was featured on the cover of Poison Study. This wouldn’t bother me if the narrator had changed, but this is still all about Yelena. Please talk to your art department.

Magic Study is the second book in a trilogy featuring Yelena, a magic worker from the south (Sitia) who was kidnapped at the age of 6 and taken north to Ixia. Ixia is governed by a mysterious Commander who overthrew the monarchy that once ruled both the South and the North. Some of this information I know because I read Poison Study. I sensed early on that despite your promise in the coverleaf that this was a stand alone, readers would struggle with your world building.

Yelena was found in the north by Irys, Fourth Magician of Sitia. Irys takes Yelena south to meet her family and then onto the Citadel where Yelena is to be Irys’ student, to learn to harness and control her magic. Without this knowledge, Yelena could flame out and lose all of her magic. The reunion with Yelena’s family is a bit flat in that the parents are both alive but their feelings do not resonate. The feelings of Yelena’s brother, however, are strong and carry an important plot point throughout the story.

Another secondary character is Cahill who believes and asserts that he is the rightful heir to the throne of Ixia and along with his military advisors is attempting to gain support to overthrow the Commander. Cahill appears to be a rube who is at the mercy of his military advisors. Yelena’s time in the North hasn’t been all bad and coupled with her love for Valek, the Northern assassin, her loyalties are torn. The themes of betrayal and forgiveness are strong throughout this book and repeat themselves within Yelena’s life, but they are overshadowed by vagueness in the world building and the inconsistencies in storytelling.

Yelena, upon meeting her mother and father, immediately refer to them mentally as “my mother” and “my father” but then about 10 pages later, you have Yelena struggling with saying “my mother” outloud. I didn’t recall in the previous book having problems with the language used by the characters but in this book the anachronistic language was jarring. Everytime someone spoke, I felt I was reading an urban fantasy rather than one set in previous age.

Of course, you are wondering whether I liked the story at all. I did. You do a great job of putting Yelena in jeopardy (even though she is responsible for putting herself there many a time) and making the book suspenseful. In the end, though, too many questions about Yelena’s magic and the course of the story were left unanswered for me to feel satisfied. Valek and Yelena’s much anticipated reunion even felt a bit flat for me. I couldn’t remember why I thought Valek was so interesting in the first book as he appeared to be quite a bore in this one. He kept calling Yelena love and made a major and not very characteristic mistake later in the book. I will definitely buy the third book in the series but if it doesn’t deliver for me, I will be a paperback buyer of your future books. C for Magic Study.

Best regards,



0 comments on “REVIEW: Magic Study by Maria Snyder

  1. The girl also looks like she’s 15 years old. Not at all like the woman on the cover of the first book. Or is this not supposed to be Yelena? I’m confused, oh blogging partner.

  2. Dear Jane, Thank you for the detailed review of my novel, Magic Study. You obviously spent a good deal of time reading and analyzing the work and the effort is appreciated.

    As for the cover model – Diana is right; the original model returned home to Russia and the publisher was left scrambling for a new model. In response to that – the publisher has redesigned the cover art for all three books. You can see the new covers on my website in the “Books and Excerpts” page.

    I hope the third book delivers for you – Yelena’s story is “wrapped up” and I am pleased with the results, although I’m not pleased to have to wait until March 08 to see it on the shelves. But release dates as well as cover art is completely out of my hands.

    All the best,
    Maria V.

  3. Fantasy is my favorite category to read. So, when Magic Study came up as the N.E. Arlington book for July, I was very excited.
    Both models (on the cover) were very attactive and that helps, but the setting, clothes and feel was modern. I gave both books a 9-10 my highest rating for a novel. Character devolopment was excellent, each book was its own story. (unlike some fantasies that had a good first book then continued for 12 more boring books and still havn’t ended, Wheel of time series). I find that I really enjoy Maria V’s writing style. I am comfortable with the world that she has created and really hope that many more books follow. I am so looking forward to the next one in March 08.

  4. I love these books! I happened across Poison Study at the library, and was delighted to find that there was a sequel. I read and enjoyed both books very much and am definitely looking forward to the third!

  5. I just read both books from my library. Loved them. Fun adventure and the love story gave me goosebumps (and that doesn’t happen much). Can’t wait for the 3rd book

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