By: Maria V. Snyder
Yelena is at it again, this time in Sitia, a place where she can practice her magic in safety – or can she? It seems that wherever she goes, Yelena is smack in the middle of trouble – and trouble likes to find her.
Warning – This book has strong rape themes and triggers, and may not for all readers. It seems at times that the use of rape in this book is merely for shock value, pushing the boundaries of the first book, Poison Study. There, it had been part of Yelena’s story, here, the descriptions and background, I felt, could have been dealt with by using a bit more finesse. I felt so strongly about this that I actually created a new shelf/category on GoodReads – ‘Rape’.
As it is, Magic Study is a full story, and in many ways, as in Poison Study, a late coming of age story as Yelena finds out about herself and who she is, where she comes from, and what she is. Needless to say, she is surprised, as much or more than anyone else. It wasn’t until close to the very end that the reader is enlightened into the meaning of a Soulfinder.
Some of the conversations in the book seem highly staged – added to the story just to explain something in depth. Valek sometimes acts like a girl. And Yelena seems to have all the answers at all the right times. Some things are a little too convenient.
But on the other hand, the intricate tale woven about family, friendship, loyalty, and finding your true self is what makes this story so good, and easily overlook the slight (perceived) flaws. Yelena’s interactions with Lief, Cahil, and Goel show that life in the south is just as dangerous as the life she left in the north, if not more so, and each interaction leaves her more damaged, but stronger.
I really like Yelena, but think she is a bit shallow, even with her rich experiences. Perhaps this is a result of her life, or because of the constant barrage of threats hat don’t allow her to reach deeper. But then again, even some of the best people out there are shallow.
The addition of Yelena’s connection to her new riding companion, Kiki, is perfect, though. Yelena, always a fast learner, still struggles from new rider issues, just as any person would. She also struggles with bullies (if only for a moment), new classmates, prejudice, and sibling rivalry. Things nearly everyone experiences and can relate to. And because of this, makes Magic Study an engaging read.