Dawn Study is out! And, embarrassed as I am to admit it, that was the point at which I realised there was a whole second series about Yelena and Valek. I read the original trilogy probably in 2013, back when the Soulfinder series didn’t exist… and apparently I’ve lived under a rock from then until now.

On the bright side, I was delighted to learn that my reading was sorted for a little while! I want to review Dawn Study fairly quickly, but I thought I’d review the whole series while I’m at it. In case anyone else was living under one of the next-door rocks.

Overview of the Book

Shadow Study is the first book in the Soulfinder series (but let’s be real, it’s the fourth book in the incredible Study series). The whole series is set between Ixia, where a magic-fearing but relatively fair Commander rules, and Sitia, where magicians are welcomed and actively trained. Obviously, this causes some conflict between countries. Main character Yelena has incredible magic powers and enough people skills to act as a peace-keeper between the two countries. Her heart mate, Valek, is an on-and-off assassin with strong loyalty to the Commander. However, his position is starting to be questioned, and Yelena’s life is immediately put in danger when her magic is neutralized.

My Rating

4-star

Or, I liked it ever so slightly less than Poison Study, but a lot more than Magic Study and a LOT more than Fire Study.

My Review

When I read Fire Study, I was a bit disappointed. I still loved it, but mostly because I love the characters. It just wasn’t that great a book and really not that great an ending. So when I realised that the new series was a thing, I was cautiously excited.

I read a couple of chapters of Shadow Study. And then about 30 more. In far less time than it should have taken me whilst starting a PhD. I devoured this book, and loved every second. The biggest thing for me was the new character viewpoints. Throughout the whole Study series, Valek was my favourite character, and I had the endless frustration of “where the hell is Valek and when is he coming back”. Not this time. This time I just had to read another 30 pages or so and I got a new Valek chapter. Better yet? FINALLY GETTING TO LEARN ABOUT HIS ASSASSIN PAST. This has been something I have needed to know since the start of the series, and now, thanks to Shadow Study, I do. Thank you, Maria V. Snyder.

Honestly, this book was much more story-rich than I was expecting. I really enjoyed how the seemingly minor plot about a smuggling problem developed into something that was actually a really significant part of the story. I liked how old characters were weaved into the new series, it was all done very cleverly. I enjoyed the new characters too, especially Onora. Not too much more of her was seen in Night Study, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she’s involved with the end of the story. I think she might be a major player.

Yelena went through some serious trials in this book. It’s on the blurb so I’m not giving away anything by saying her magic is blocked. But the potential reasons as to why develop throughout the book, and it’s interesting seeing how she deals with the transition from really powerful magician to normal-ish person, albiet with some training from an assassin boyfriend. I did lose count of how many people were trying to kill Yelena, but I’m sure it’ll all tie together and become clear as the series progresses.

The ending of this book was intense. Parts of it were foreshadowed pretty heavily, but other elements were totally unexpected. It was chapter after chapter of pure excitement, all with one hell of a cliffhanger ending (good thing I finished Shadow Study while Night Study was already on my eReader ready to read, put it that way). In a good way, though.

So, in summary, this book was awesome. I loved reading Valek’s viewpoint, I loved reading his back story (at long last!!) even more. I liked learning that Valek does not always follow the Commander’s orders blindly… he’s a little more clever than that. Valek has always been my favourite but he’s reached a whole new level.

My Favourite Quote

“We should make a list of who doesn’t want to kill you, love. It’d be shorter.”

Not only funny, but accurate, and would have genuinely been helpful in reading this novel.

My Recommendation

Read all of the Study series. Shadow Study is a great start to a new series, and it does a pretty good job of catching readers up with the events of the previous three books… but I still don’t know if I would have managed to follow it all that well if I hadn’t read the original three.

Bonus recommendation: buy Night Study when you buy Shadow Study, and don’t finish Shadow Study at 2am unless you want to be up until daylight reading Night Study. That cliffhanger was just too. damn. much.

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