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Ning was responsible for brewing the tea that killed her mother and poisoned her sister, Shu. She needs to find the antidote for the poison before Shu dies. When Ning finds out there is a competition at the palace to find the best shennong-shi, master of ancient and magical tea-making, she knows she must compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, and Ning wants to request something to cure her sister. However, the competition becomes deadly and political, so Ning must race to save her own life.
This was a beautiful fantasy story. I loved the magical elements involving the tea. The tea was brewed with magic that could give the drinker or the brewer magical abilities. The competition was thrilling and suspenseful because each challenge had a dangerous twist.
This story moved along at a fast pace. There were lots of twists, especially in the final chapters. I couldn’t figure out how Ning was going to get out of her challenges in the final chapters, so I was surprised when she did. The story also ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m glad the sequel will be published so soon!
A Magic Steeped in Poison is a great fantasy debut!
Thank you Raincoast Books and Feiwell and Friends for providing a copy of this book.
This book is a masterpiece. Beautifully written, with a vibrant and mesmerizing magic system, a complex plot full of twisting politics, and at the centre of it all, an imperfect girl desperate to save the life of her sister. What more could you ask for? Lin’s writing style is lyrical and emotional, and her descriptions of tea preparation are absolutely mesmerizing, and the story surrounding this incredible magic system is complicated and captivating in the best way.
The story takes its time, but the magic of Lin’s writing and the beauty of the world and magic system kept me engaged the entire time. I was so immersed in the story, so moved and drawn in, that I made a point to brew a cup of tea whenever I sat down to read, just to feel more connected with what I was reading.
The characters in this book are beautifully fleshed out, and Ning is one of my favourite YA protagonists in some time. She is imperfect and flawed, but also vibrant and strong and easy to relate to. She is driven by the love of her family and is thrust into a world she does not understand; I think we can all relate to that in some way or another. The side characters in this story are not all fleshed out to the same degree, but their roles in the story help propel the plot and we learn enough about them to get invested in how they will figure into the plot of book two.
I am intrigued by how this story will progress in the sequel, which is coming in August! It looks like things will be expanding within both the political and magical conflicts, and I can’t wait to see where things go.
The dust jacket doesn't fully cover the hardcover of the book, but honestly for the low price I can't complain! If you're picky about this then I suggest buying elsewhere, but for this discounted rate I can definitely look past it because it's not that noticeable. The book is also smaller than I expected for a hardcover, but I'm pretty sure it's because it's from a different publisher from the usual US/UK publishers, and honestly it's a lot easier to hold. The book came in relatively good condition and within the expected timeframe! Recommended