Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder (SPOILER REVIEW)

I recently finished Snyder’s first book, Shadow Study, in her new series titled Soulfinders and I can’t express to you how much I enjoyed it. This has to be one of my favorites so far that I have read from Snyder.

I was in love captivated from the first line of the first book in the Study series titled Poison Study giving it 5/5 stars. I was immersed and utterly impressed with this world that had been created. My passion and excitement were heightened at a whole new level and recently these feelings have been revived on completion of Shadow Study. I could see how much work was put in to the writing as well as feel the devotion behind the characters and the plot from the author’s choices. Snyder has done it again which is why I have to give this book 5/5 stars.

If you have not yet read this novel I highly recommend that you do and while you get the chance check out Snyder’s other series and books. You’ll fall in love, I promise.

Without further ado, I am diving right into spoilers. You have been warned.


My first initial reaction to discovering the loss of Yelena’s magic involved a loud gasp that followed with, “Wait… What?!” I was incredibly shocked that magic could even be erased let alone from a simple weapon such as an arrow. I immediately went into this mode of high contemplation towards how in the hell is this plot going to turn out. Surely Yelena is screwed without magic. Despite the amount of doubt I had I was also incredibly excited to continue to find out more knowing that anything can happen from this point.

I was overjoyed that Snyder took the opportunity to tell this story from three different point of views being Yelena, Valek and Janco. I initially thought the story was only going to be told from the points of view of Yelena and Valek. The little surprise element of seeing Janco’s name pop up the next chapter was thrilling and exciting. Janco is a very loveable and humorous character who when paired with Ari can make you laugh and laugh at just how quirky they both are. Being able to see the story be told from Janco’s point of view made everything better enabling me to have a comic relief that was needed in times where we were left with small cliffhangers.

Whilst reading I identified why I love Snyder. She’s incredibly clever in the choices she makes. If you have read my past reviews on my Goodreads account you will know that I adore and admire Snyder’s writing. It is always captivating and exudes beauty through her descriptions that reveal a new world that seems so real with high success. There are elements of poetry and color as Snyder draws her readers to want to continue reading her story. An example of this is revealed on page 330 in the lines, “I kept to the shadows and let my fear guide me… I traveled toward the heart of my terror… No other sounds pierced the darkness.” Snyder enabled me to fully embody Yelena’s fear through these haunting yet incredibly beautiful lines that capture this world through being able to express real and raw emotions. Snyder is fantastic !!

Through reading I was able to pinpoint how Valek and Janco’s chapters were written in third position in comparison to Yelena’s chapters that were written in first. I really like this choice in highlighting the main character/s as it draws attention to the importance of why Yelena is in this story. Without her these novels would have turned out differently. This whole synopsis is about Yelena’s choices, experiences and new found knowledge that enable us as readers to share her experiences. I think it was highly intelligent of Snyder to set Shadow Study in this way.

I greatly enjoyed that this novel also explored Valek’s past in particular towards unveiling his creative side. I was satisfied being able to understand why Valek carves his statues. In relation to his past Valek created these statues and left them next to his victims. Valek used these statues as a tool to help him move on and recover from what these specific people had selfishly taken from him for example the lives of his brothers. Yet Valek’s creative mind emulates Snyder’s writing as being poetic. His creations reveal his sensitive side towards these harsh memories as well as expressing admiration and passion which is revealed in regards to Yelena when he makes her butterfly pendant.

Valek’s creativity extends further as we find out that Valek can easily dress up as a woman and is a perfectionist when it comes to being able to do makeup and style hair. This section revealed just how imaginative, sensitive and feminine Valek is. It made me ponder about today’s society and how it’s changed enormously in comparison to the past where opinions were limited and the wellbeing of others was ridiculed. The contrast between male and female are highlighted and have been pinpointed to numerous traditions such as girls having to wear pink and boys having to wear blue. Somehow these stereotypical differences help individual’s see that we all are prescribed to one gender and can not cross between the two or we are labelled as ‘abnormal’ and incorrect. Yet in today’s society many problems such as this have been gradually resolving. The individuals that were rendered powerless based off these notions are now being understood. Our society has changed as the world is beginning to accept differences and not be so quick to judge another. I think Snyder was intelligent in opening up behind the lines that it is okay for men to share their sensitivity and to explore parts of themselves that many in the past feared to do. None of us should be ashamed of what we believe in as these beliefs shape who we are. This is what makes us human. Rant over.

There were multiple moments in this novel that made me laugh out loud in particular page 92. Janco is in a dusty room raising his need to sneeze yet if he does he is in risk of being found and worse case scenario murdered on the spot. Having to hold in his sneeze reminds him to a time when Ari did revealing his hiding spot as Snyder follows to write, “There was that other time… His eyes watered as laugher threatened to bubble up his throat.” I could not stop laughing because I could imagine something like that happening in reality. A simple involuntary reaction such as sneezing is natural and is meant to be let out to de cleanse the body. I thought it was hilarious this action of sneezing was used to make us see that something natural can ruin everything especially in a situation like the one Ari or Janco were in that could lead to alarming danger.

Another moment that made me laugh was the line on page 204 that read, “Janco scratched the scar where the lower half of his right ear use to be.” This mannerism of his has appeared numerous times not just in this novel and it literally makes me LOL. Is this Maria’s favorite line or something? The amount of times it has been repeated is laughable. This novel was hilarious filled with so many funny moments that I found unexpected from a synopsis that is serious and endearing. I really enjoyed this contrast to her other books.

Shadow Study also introduced the new character, Onora. I viewed her as such a bad ass assassin who is serious about what she does and attends every situation with a cleverness that enables her to catch her prey with her bare hands. I also with time really shipped her with Janco as I could feel their relationship blossoming as they learnt more and more about each other. I hope something happens romantically between the two. Maybe something will in Night Study perhaps? In contrast I was shocked towards discovering Onora’s hidden allegiance with the Commander and the fact that it was her that hit Yelena with that arrow. This twist left me to question Onora and what she may be capable of.

Moving on… What surprised me the most in this novel was the ending cliffhanger. I completely forgot about the moon potion Yelena was meant to take and I was star struck that it had slipped my mind so easily. When I read a book I like to guess what’s going to happen next yet I had no idea this was coming. I can’t wait to read Snyder’s next book, Night Study.

To sum up, I loved Shadow Study. It’s my favorite so far as it enabled me to get back into reading and to understand just how much I love to read. I loved the humour and fantasy aspects, the characters, the plot and the writing. When all these things are combined into one fantastic book I, the reader, am able to be left truly satisfied on the edge of my seat pleading for more. This novel was epicness!

Thank you for listening to my squabble and if you have not read this book I highly recommend that you do. It’s fantastic! If you have please feel free to comment your feels, agreements or disagreements. I would love to hear what you have to say.

For now, I hope you are enjoying your day and are indulging yourself in the addiction that is books. Devour. Devour. Devour.

Sidney xx


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