I first encountered Maria Snyder‘s books when I was working at a different bookstore than where I work now. One of my managers was a friend of Snyder’s and set up a book signing for the first book in her Glass series. I hadn’t even heard of her books prior to that point, but decided to give them a try. I think I finished all three of the original Study books in less than a week and was mildly disappointed that the Glass books wouldn’t follow the adventures of Yelena, Valek, Ari and Janco quite as much as the first series had. I had fallen in love with those four characters, and they’re still some of my favorite literary characters.
Fast-forward many years and I’ve kept up with all of Snyder’s books, though I still find that the Study series remains my favorite. Therefore you can imagine my excitement when she announced she would be writing another entire series focusing on the characters I loved so much (featuring appearances by characters we had met throughout the Glass series as well).
For those fans who have been patiently waiting for more tales of Ixia and Sitia just as long as I have (or even longer, in some cases) Shadow Study does not disappoint. Snyder hits the ground running right in the first chapter with Yelena being attacked by an assassin while on her way to rendezvous with Valek, who is on his way back to Ixia following the events of Spy Glass, the last novel of the Glass series. And that’s just the beginning of the story – it gets even more exciting and intriguing from there.
One of the things I loved about this novel is that it is different from the other novels of the Study series in that it’s not told solely from Yelena’s point of view. This time we also get chapters told from Valek and Janco’s perspectives. Valek’s and Janco’s chapters aren’t told from the first-person as Yelena’s is, but we still get a lot of insight into these beloved characters through them, especially Valek. Flashbacks weave through Valek’s chapters, finally filling in some of the gaps about where he came from and how he came to be the man readers know and love. I found these details about his history fascinating – especially how he came to meet the Commander and become his second in command.
Another thing the separate viewpoints does is make this book completely impossible to put down. Each chapter ending leaves you hanging, and you know it’s going to be one or two chapters before you get back to that character to see what happens. The book would have been hard to put down to begin with, but this made it impossible.
Shadow Study does a great job of reintroducing readers to the characters we first fell in love with in Poison Study and setting in motion the events for the rest of the series. This time the threat to Yelena and Valek feels a little closer to home than it has in the past, which I think will make for a lot of suspense ahead (and I’m not just talking about the suspense of waiting for the next book to come out). The stakes have been raised, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
If you love Snyder’s books as much as I do, make sure you pick up your copy of Shadow Study – you won’t be disappointed. If you’re a fan of the fantasy/sci-fi genre and have never read anything by Snyder, I highly recommend giving her books a chance. They’re smart, compelling and the characters are wonderful. Fantasy fans may want to start with Poison Study or her Healer series that begins with Touch of Power. Sci-fi fans can check out Inside Out and Outside In.