Review of MAGIC STUDY by Maria V. Snyder (see her website)
Luna, October 2006
Yelena has left the northern nation where she had been held captive--and found love. Now she's seeking to train her magical talents before they can flare up and destroy her and others with her. Along the way, though, she's reuniting the kidnap victims with their families--and her own family is next on the list.
While her parents instantly welcome her back to the family, Yelena's brother feels the blood on her and her loyalty to the north. Rather than love, he greets her with hatred. Still, she has small flashes of memory of a time when she and her brother were friends. She has little time to deal with her brother, however. She attends the magician academy, and is called on to help heal a girl who was kidnapped, raped, and almost murdered by a renegade magician who is attempting to gain control of multiple magical souls--and swallow their power into himself. Because Yelena had once faced a similar threat, she is emotionally connected to the victim--and her powers begin to manifest themselves in ways disturbing both to herself and to the magicians who rule the land.
An embassy from the north gives Yelena a chance to re-unite with her lover, Valek, and Valek is prepared to help her on her quest--but the embassy also brings a threat. She is invited to return to the north--but only if she'll turn into the spy that so many in the south already accuse her of being.
Author Maria V. Snyder (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Snyder) weaves a complex plot with Yelena facing threats from family, from a 'prince' who nearly falls in love with her, and from a mysterious group of magicians who live in the great desert of the south. Armed with her trusty 'bow' (Snyder's continued term for the martial arts weapon more commonly termed a bo), and a switchblade, Yelena also gets mysterious potions from her parents--potions that might protect her from magical attacks, or that might destroy her.
Snyder's strong writing and constant action keep the reader involved in the story. Although I find Yelena a bit too talented, a bit too perfect, and a bit too happy with her geat love, these flaws don't prevent MAGIC STUDY from being an enjoyable read.
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