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A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

The Story:

From the Publisher, A Magic Steeped in Poison Synopsis:

Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

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.

My Review

I have recently been immersing myself into fiction that focuses on Chinese mythology. Enjoying the reimagining and reinterpretations of the fascinating lore that are vivid in each of these novels.

Including, A Magic Steeped in Poison.

First, we need to talk about the cover of this book! ⬇️

It is simply stunning. With gorgeous watercolors, the art by Sija Hong begs for the reader to pick up this book. The artist did a phenomenal job incorporating elements that are in the novel. Hong perfectly illustrates each detail into the cover art. A Magic Steeped in Poison‘s cover is breathtaking and is the envy of YA book covers.

More Thoughts

Now, for the story.

You’ll notice right off, the core of the novel is sound. It’s a story about a young woman named Ning. She has magical powers, through the art of tea-making. Ning is not a fully trained apprentice. But because of her sisters dire state, she enters an imperial competition. If Ning wins, she will have the chance to save her sister’s life. Lin’s main thread of the story is as clear as the final notes of a grand opus: Ning being determined to help save her sister.

Think Hunger Games.

Even though we don’t see the day-to-day relationship between Ning and her sister over the course of the novel, as the reader, you are always aware of Ning’s attempts to keep her sister safe. The competition itself is as deadly as those games seen in the Hunger Games. Though it’s Ning’s determination, resilience, and abilities that are unwavering. Her desire to help her only sister is what drives her. That single thought propels her to do whatever it takes. She’s the type of heroine readers will be rooting for from the very beginning.

A Few Last Thoughts

But, what I found perplexing were the subplots. They were not being tightly knitted into the tapestry of the story. They felt like loose ends. Threads that could be easily tugged and undone. Leaving certain parts of the story a bit confusing.

With a cliffhanger ending, readers will be eager to know what happens next. Wondering if Ning, her family, and the princess will survive, or if the Empire is worth saving.

Happy Reading ~ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blot – Satisfyingly Inked

Photo Collage by Sheaf & Ink of A Magic Steeped in Poison

Publication Details

Pub DateISBNPage CountPublisherAge GroupSource & FormatReview Posted Online
29-Mar-22978-1250767080384Feiwel & FriendsYANetGalley, Digital ARCJanuary 18, 2022

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