relics, kingdoms, and the path of dreams | a venom dark and sweet by judy i lin

by - 8:00 AM

"We all believe we are the center of the universe, but we forget that we are merely specks among the stars. Moving through the streams of possible futures, sometimes colliding."

isbn: 978-1250767103 | pages: 331
      publication date: August 23, 2022 | source: physical-own/tour
     genre: young adult, fantasy
     rating: 6.7/10
Writing: 6 | Atmosphere: 6 | World-Building: 8 | Plot: 7 |  Characters: 7 | Impact: 7

     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
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Please note, this review may contain spoilers for Book One - A Magic Steeped in Poison.
Check out my review here for more information!

the power of the serpent
A Venom Dark and Sweet is the conclusion to Judy I. Lin's The Book of Tea duology where the kingdom of 
Dàxī finds itself on the brink of turmoil following the return of The Banished Prince. After the chancellor's betrayal, Lin has been reunited with her sister but is forced on the run with the princess as the ancient serpent sinks its fangs deeper into the palace and heart of the kingdom. Told with dual POVs following Ning and Kang, the story unfolds and offers both sides of the battle as history, magic, and reality begin to blend itself together.

While I had enjoyed A Magic Steeped in Poison, there was a small spark that was missing and I hoped the sequel would draw that conclusion, but it's hard to pinpoint what exactly didn't hit the spot. I enjoyed Kang's perspective and being able to finally learn more about his character which was one of my hopes for this sequel since he felt very distant in book one. Where I struggled a bit was the writing within Lin's portion of the story feeling a lot more telling than showing in regards to her journey. Despite that, I did love being back in the world and learning alongside Lin the extent of her magic as well as discovering more about the abilities of shénnóng-shī. 

While Lin's storyline might have read younger to me, I've realized that I don't need to connect 100% with a character in order to admire them. Lin has the power of ambition and strength and she wields those alongside her gentleness and hope which is admirable as her story progresses. Her love for her sister drives each action and her struggles with her role in the tapestry of the world are heartfelt and easily relatable as well. 

a new dynasty
My criticisms seem to line up with a couple other reviews I've read wherein the pacing of this book just felt so condensed that I wouldn't have minded the extension of a third book to fully flesh out the plot. I simply wish we could have gotten more time especially to discover more deeply the amazing world that July I. Lin has created. There's so much history and culture that is incredibly fascinating that the second half feels like a time bomb with all the events coming together for the finale. 

This duology in it of itself feels like a warm blanket of comfort from the exploration of tea culture to the vivid descriptions of food and architecture. There's a feeling of familiarity that has made it easy to bond with the characters even if parts of the writing didn't click perfectly in place for me personally. I now want to curl up with a large tome all about the different types of tea and their medicinal or magical properties because even a small step into Lin's world feels like a glimpse of her adventure.

thank you so much to TBR & Beyond Tours, Judy I. Lin, and Feiwel and Friends for the opportunity to participate on this tour - check out the other stops by clicking the banner above!

m  o  o  d  b  o  a  r  d

images links: pouring tea / bamboo forest / a tale of twin cities poster / mountain

a  b  o  u  t     t  h  e     a  u  t  h  o  r

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  1. It's always nice to see that people would like to see MORE from a series. I feel like so many times I've read trilogies that really should have been duologies or standalones, with terrible pacing just to stretch it out. It's a shame that some plot points could have used more room to breath and develop, though. Great review!

    1. Thank you Kal! It's definitely one of my new favorite fantasy worlds so I wish we could have spent more time in it for sure!