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NetGalley Review: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

Hey all, Sam here.

Okay, here we are, trying to get back into a groove of posting and reviewing. I actually made myself a Google Sheet where I can keep track of all of my books downloaded from NetGalley, as well as their publishing date. I have highlighted the books I own in one color, because some of these books have been released while I’ve been in a major reading slump, and then I have books highlighted in a different color if I’ve read them and need to review them.

I don’t know that y’all necessarily wanted a peek into my organizational process, but I wanted to make it clear that I do keep track of what I still need to read and review, which means as long as I can keep making time to write up these posts, I have plenty queued up to be written.

Today I’m focusing on one of the newer additions to my NetGalley list, and by that I mean newer on the release side of things. This is a book I do already own, and I’ve gotten approval for the sequel already on NetGalley, so hopefully I can read that soon.

Okay, that’s enough rambling…let’s jump into the review.

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger. 

Book Synopsis

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

First off, did you see that cover? I’m sorry, I love the way both this cover and the sequel/conclusion’s cover look, especially side by side. Cover designers do such incredible work, and even if the title or the author name doesn’t grab your attention, this cover should at least get you to pick the book up.

Then there’s the synopsis. I do enjoy magical competition stories, and a good court politics/political intrigue story is typically something I like to read as well, so this story definitely intrigued me. I’m also currently playing an herbalist/apothecary/healer type character in Dungeons & Dragons, so the tea making aspect of this story absolutely appealed to me.

And with all the anticipation and expectation I felt before picking this book up, I can say that it did deliver a satisfying story, which is great. I finished this in just a couple sittings, as part of my long Memorial Day weekend reading relaxation event this year….I read like 5 books in 4 days, which felt pretty damn great, and honestly they were all pretty solid reads.

The worldbuilding and lore and magical setup were interesting, and I definitely found myself compelled to keep reading, which is usually a good sign, but felt especially good after how slumpy I had been these past months. So honestly if you’re looking for an absorbingly quick read that will keep you turning pages, perhaps this is one you should look into.

The characters were interesting, and with the political intrigue elements, it made me question every character I met, wondering what ulterior motives they had, if any, and trying to figure out where everyone’s loyalties aligned. And with how all the characters ended up and how the plots wove together by the end, I do believe that I’ll be trying to pick up the sequel pretty soon. It would be nice to get the review up before release day near the end of August.

So, A Magic Steeped in Poison is out now, and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. The sequel/conclusion, A Venom Dark and Sweet will be out on August 23rd.

Well, that is all from me for today, but I will hopefully be back soon with more geeky content.

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