There’s no question that Maria V. Snyder knows how to magical fantasy works. Shadow Study takes the readers back into the fantastic countries of Ixia and Sitia who have a shaky peace treaty in place. The countries are still wary of each other despite the now open boarders.
Valek is torn between his forever commitment to the Commander and his love for his heart mate, Yelena. What was really amazing in this book is that we get to see so much more of Valek’s story; including his training as an assassin, how he met the Commander, and his assassination of the king. He’s still the sleek, sexy, and completely deadly assassin we know from the previous books, but in this book we also get to see a more human side of Valek.
Yelena has been independent since we’ve met her in Poison Study, but that independency has always included her magic. In Shadow Study she has to relearn how the world works without her magic while being the target of unknown assassins. She struggles, but she’s still ultimately that tough woman that managed to steal the heart of an assassin.
We don’t see much of Ari and Janco, but we do have Janco’s POV chapters with a very interesting new character! Onora is paired with Janco on his mission into Sitia, much to Janco’s amusement and Onora’s annoyance. Janco is the same lovable character as ever, fighting with rhymes and pouting to get his way. Letting him have his own POV chapters was a fantastic idea.
Onora is a new character introduced in this series. She’s a young, half-trained assassin that’s after Valek’s job. She’s headstrong and pushes to get things done her way, but she’s very clever and I’m looking forward to how her character continues to develop (WITH Janco, maybe? I’d ship it.)
The story is told from three POV’s; Yelena, Valek, and Janco with Yelena’s POV being in first person. This was such an excellent choice! Each character where in their own story on their own mission until it all came together in the end. It was like reading three stories that slowly merged together.
Magic wasn’t dominate in this book, but it is still a key factor. The action here lies with assassins.
Overall, I greatly recommend Shadow Study to fans of romantic fantasy. You will need to read the Study series first, but you can make do without reading the Glass series.