Review: Dawn Study

Review: Dawn StudyDawn Study (Soulfinders, #3) by Maria V. Snyder
Published by Mira Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 478

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

I finished Night Study in 6 days. In comparison, Dawn Study took me twice as long, and sadly I didn’t feel it lived up to the previous books.  Having really enjoyed every other Maria V. Snyder book, I went into this one with pretty high hopes, especially since it was the final book in the series, but Dawn Study wasn’t quite the epic, dramatic, characters-all-come-together finale I expected.

I mostly liked the characters – Yelena, Valek, Onora, Janco, Ari and Fisk are still characters I really like, but the inclusion of various other characters, just didn’t work for me.  Maybe it’s because I just finished Assassin’s Fate, which does a very similar thing in terms of bringing in old characters and tying up loose ends, and it’s hard not to compare the two.  Whilst I loved the way Hobb did it in Assassin’s Fate, sadly it just fell a little flat for me in Dawn Study; instead of feeling epic and Avengers-like it just felt a bit forced.  I didn’t always have 100% clear recollections of the characters from previous series, and their portrayals in Dawn Study didn’t seem to refresh my memory: Kade for example seemed soft, and I found Devlen’s dialogue consistently distracting, like it just didn’t fit.

The ending felt a bit too easy, and a bit too rushed, which was disappointing.  I think what made it especially frustrating was that Dawn Study, just like Night Study felt slow at times, like there was a lot of running-in-place in the build-up to the finale. I wonder whether perhaps I would have preferred this trilogy if it had been written as a duology instead, as that would have cut a lot of the pacing problems.  Having said that, it’s still a Snyder book, and so I still enjoyed it; I like the way she writes and I liked the main characters.  If you’re a die-hard Snyder fan, I imagine you’ll still really enjoy it, and it is worth picking up for the continuation of Valek and Yelena’s story if nothing else, just be prepared that it may not live up to her previous books.

One StarOne StarOne Star

Review: Night Study

Review: Night StudyNight Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Soulfinders #2
Published by Mira Ink on February 25th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Addictiveness: ★★★★

When I read it…

I read this over about a week, between January 6th and 12th 2016.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Pretty much nothing! I requested this one on NetGalley because I adore Maria V. Snyder, and didn’t read any reviews before I started it.

What worked for me:

  • The characters: One of the things I love most about Maria V. Snyder’s books is that her characters are so awesome.  We’ve been through a lot with these characters now, and reading each new book feels like catching up with old friends.  There’s a lot of character development – particularly for Valek – which is great, and we’re also learning a bit more about the intriguing Onora.
  • The relationships: Snyder doesn’t just write awesome characters, but characters that interact, that have complex, believable relationships.  From Yelena and Valek’s romance to Janco and Ari’s banter, it’s these relationships that really make the characters feel real.  The romance between Yelena and Valek is great, holding firm despite a lot of changes, and a lot of character development, particularly for Valek.

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • The POVs: Night Study switches between Yelena (in first person) and Lief, Valek & Janco (all in third person).  I kind of love multiple POV stories, so that didn’t bother me, but I wasn’t particularly convinced by the changes between first and third person – I didn’t dislike it, I just found it a little…unnecessary I guess.
  • The pacing: at times the story felt a little slow, and I felt like there was a bit of running-in-place, where setback after setback meant there wasn’t a huge amount of progress at times.

Overall thoughts:

Maria V. Snyder’s books never disappoint, and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed Night Study just as much as I expected to.  The characters we know and love, combined with a few newer ones, means reading the book feels like coming home, and despite the new storyline, the book feels nostalgic.  Despite the comfort of characters and world-building we’re used to, the story manages to also be addictive, making it difficult to put down.  I didn’t love it as much as some of the earlier books in the series, perhaps because this one felt a little safer, a little slower, a little less shocking than earlier books, but I still really really liked it, especially seeing the characters and their relationships grow.

Other Reviews of Night Study: Heart Full of Books | Two Chicks on Books | Dark Faerie Tales

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Shadow Study (Maria V. Snyder)

Shadow Study (Maria V. Snyder)Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Soulfinders #1
Published by Mira Ink on 12-03-15
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.

Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger.
As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.

Plot: ★★★

The storyYelena has been left without her magic after being targeted by an assassin, while Valek is Ixia at the Commander’s side helping to deal with trouble.  As Yelena tries to figure out what’s happened to her magic, Valek is dealing with the fact the lax security around the Commander.

The plot is interesting enough, with plenty of mystery (though at least one that I thought was predictable), and the different points of view are fun, but for me, it’s always Snyder’s characters that are the real selling point!

The characters

We get to see a lot more of Valek’s past in Shadow Study, which is something I adored.  I can definitely understand why we often meet characters who are already kick-ass, because years of training and dedication make for a slow story, so getting little insights into how Valek got to where he is now was a great way to give us more information about him without slowing down the pace.

Getting to see more of Ari and Janco was always bound to be a winner, because they’re such fun characters, and I’m also very intrigued by Onora, one of the new characters.  Leif also remains a brilliant character, Valek just grows more intriguing with each flashback, and I liked that Yelena seems more mature in this book than previously, which makes sense given the timeline.  A minor complaint I had was that I found Devlen’s dialogue really awkward, but I don’t remember being at all bothered by it in the other books.  I’m not sure whether that’s a case of rose-tinted hindsight, the fact I just haven’t read the last books in a long time, or because he was genuinely different in this one.

final thoughts

I think Shadow Study was let down by the fact that I was overwhelmed with work at the time of reading, and I think it would probably benefit from a re-read of previous books.  Despite all that, I adored learning more of Valek’s past, I enjoyed getting Janco’s point of view, I loved the characters and I’ll be pre-ordering book 2.

Buy it? This is one that’d be worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: As always, fantastic world-building and great characters, just not my favourite book so far.

Other Reviews of Shadow Study: Good Books and Good Wine | Rally the Readers | Literary Escapism

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star