*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison
Author: Judy I. Lin
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of MacMillan Publishing Group
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
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.
This book was really a stunning historically-inspired fantasy tale about a young woman with a budding talent who sees only one way to save her sister whose life hangs in the balance: win the Imperial tea-making competition and receive the fulfillment of one request. With this win, she might request the help of the Emperor’s physicians to save her dying sister from the poison that consumes her. After the loss of her mother from the same poison, this competition is everything to Ning.
What’s so incredibly unique about this story is that the magic is rooted in the art and ceremony of tea making. It’s delicate, powerful, ever changing, and such a new idea to bring to the table. Though I had a tough time in the beginning with Lin’s writing style, after a few chapters, I was totally hooked! I couldn’t get enough of the magic she brewed in these pages. Ning is humble, yet fierce, hard-working, and resilient. Her drive pushes her to continue against hardship, loss, doubt, and the scheming of others. She is ignorant to palace life, yet she suddenly finds herself thrust into the centre of it, committing grievous, yet somehow still forgivable faux pas.
What’s great about this series is that there is still more to come! A Magic Steeped in Poison is just the beginning. I’m already set and ready to read the next book! Murder, romance, friendship, and killer female characters—-what more could you want? I hope you’ll be as hooked onto this new series as I was. Happy reading!