a tea drop of competitions and political unrest | a magic steeped in poison by judy i. lin

by - 8:00 AM

"The stars are not a straight road but a split stream, each breaking into smaller ones, infinite possibilities outlined across the sky."

 isbn: 978-1250767080 | pages: 384
      publication date: March 29, 2022 | source: tour/netgalley
     genre: young adult, asian historical fantasy, mythology
     rating: 6.8/10 
Writing: 7 | Atmosphere: 8 | World-Building: 7 | Plot: 6 |  Characters: 7 | Impact: 6

     A M A Z O N    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    B O O K S H O P * 
     B O O K D E P O S I T O R Y    |    B A R N E S A N D N O B L E S

chasing of dreams
A Magic Steeped in Poison is a beautiful debut novel that combines all the elements I love of political intrigue, high-stake competitions, and delicious Asian food. It left me absolutely drooling with the many mentions of juicy dumplings, flaky desserts, and all the soups of my childhood. The story follows Ning who unknowingly poisoned her sister and killed her mother with a cup of tea. When a competition offer arrives for all the shennong-shi of the kingdom to compete for a position at court, Ning is forced out of her village and into the treacherous schemes of court politics. Amidst a competition that could save her sister's life, there's also dissent coming from the people as the rumors of Banished Prince's rebellion begin to rise again.

This is a story that once again highlights a main character whose goals and heart are incredibly family-oriented and I loved it. Despite her family getting very little page time, they still represent such an important pillar in her life and become a force that guides her through all the underhanded maneuvers of court. This made falling into her story so seamless and I was easily able to root for her.  Ning's experience highlights the injustice between social classes and the thinly veiled prejudice of the rich, but her newfound friendships and alliances all help her to navigate through and let her incredible affinity towards the magic of tea shine.

"Grief has a taste, bitter and lingering, but so soft it sometimes disguises itself as sweetness." 

fighting for life
Did I happen to mention how hungry this book made me? On top of all the food, the entire magic system based off of tea was incredibly fascinating and something I can't wait to explore more of in the sequel. As the first book in a duology, the author does a great job setting up the exposition to the greater political conflict and intertwining that with the shennong-shi competition. With that being said, because there's this big focus on alluding to the bigger issue at hand, there were moments that dragged or felt inserted for extra action/dramatics and didn't quite fit the general flow of the story. 

I do hope that the sequel dives more into the characters themselves especially to flesh them out and provide them the page time to develop their relationships more thoroughly. Could this be the first book where I wanted more of the romance? I am absolutely relieved that the sequel comes out in August and until its release, I'll be holding on by drinking many cups of tea and dreaming of pork buns.

thank you so much to TBR AND BEYOND, Feiwel and Friends, and Judy I. Lin for providing an e-arc for this book tour - all thoughts are 100% my own. please click on the banner to check out the other amazing stops!

m  o  o  d  b  o  a  r  d
images from unsplash, pexels, and tumblr - tea / garden / girl / soldier

a  b  o  u  t     t  h  e     a  u  t  h  o  r
website / twitter / instagram / goodreads

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  1. YES, the food!! Half the quotes I highlighted were the food descriptions 😂 Love the mood board 😍

    1. thank you! omg same - I had to scroll through so many highlighted food descriptions to find an opening quote for this post 😂

  2. How magical! I love the sounds of how family-oriented this one is and I'm sure it will also make me hungry too. Great review!

    1. thank you alicia! the food descriptions are to die for and left me craving all my favorites - if you pick this up, i'd love to you know your thoughts!