Review of 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.

Firstly i was totally drawn in by the cover of this book, such beautiful colours and it totally makes it stand out in the crowd! A Magic Steeped in Poison is such a wonderful book, with so much going on, i do enjoy a competition in books and pretty much all of the trials that Ning undertakes are beset with either danger or fiendish complexity, not to mention a heavy dose of sabotage. 

I adored the magic system and the way the wielding of tea was visualised, different teas displaying different traits and weaving a subtle and wonderful thread through the story. The tea trials may sound like they might not be very exciting but the way that they are incorporated in such an all encompassing way is fantastic, i especially enjoyed how Ning’s magic allowed her to transcend to a different level as she combined both her mother and father’s skills.

The underlying pace is subtly relentless with not only the race against time for Ning to save her sister but also to complete the trials before the all the pieces come together and there are many things that are all at play at the same time. One of my favourite things though was the sense of camaraderie and companionship, and how Ning learns more of her history as she talks to those in the palace and explores the grounds and the city beyond. Her uncanny ability to turn around being in the wrong place in the wrong time to her unwitting favour is fantastic and leads her down some very interesting paths.

If you love unique magic systems with a dash of historical fantasy and that keeps you on your toes then you will adore this book!

Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy to review

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