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Magic Study    by Maria V. Snyder order for
Magic Study
by Maria V. Snyder
Order:  USA  Can
Luna, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Having escaped the clutches of the man who kidnapped her at a young age and forced her into slavery, Yelena is finally returning home. But her homecoming is hardly a thrilling occasion. She barely remembers her mother, father and brother, but they all remember her in their own way. Although her parents both welcome her back with open arms, her brother Leif is less certain. In fact, he makes it clear from their first meeting that he believes her to be a murderous spy.

Uncomfortable in her Sitian home after having been raised in Ixia, Yelena is eager to leave her newfound family behind and return to the Magician's Keep in order to continue her magic training. Although she expects to return with Irys, her friend and mentor, she learns she's to travel with Leif instead. When they get ambushed on the way there, Yelena's plans to hone her magic take a new, radical turn as she becomes entangled in a lost prince's plot to claim Ixia's throne. Along the way, she must also battle the growing hostility of the other magicians and the constant friction between her Ixian upbringing and her newfound Sitian customs.

Magic Study is Snyder's follow-up to her well-received debut novel, Poison Study. The story picks up shortly after the previous novel left off, and it's wonderful to see Yelena and some of the other orphans returning to their families. From the beginning, Yelena's discomfort with her family adds a level of depth to her characterization. It's clear she wants to find a place where she belongs, but her Sitian home high up in the trees isn't it. Even once she leaves her parents behind, the customs of her two backgrounds continue to clash, and Yelena often finds herself caught in the middle.

Deft word building - including laws of magic that have been carefully constructed - add a believable, realistic dimension to the world Snyder has created. The reader experiences the environment through Yelena's eyes, and it's clear from the beginning that this world view is filtered through the eyes of a young woman. One who has been through more than most people will have to handle in a lifetime, but a young woman, nevertheless. As a result, the entire novel has a young adult feel, and readers looking for a more complex, adult read may be disappointed. Fans of Snyder's first novel, however, will be delighted with this follow-up.

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