I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin. I loved this unique and immersive YA debut fantasy and am eager to share my top five reasons to read the book!
About the Book:
Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison
Author: Judy I. Lin
Series: The Book of Tea #1
Page Length: 383
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Synopsis: Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.
I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”
For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.
When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.
But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.
5 Reasons to Read A Magic Steeped in Poison:
1. THE LYRICAL WRITING. Lin’s writing style is captivating and has an almost poetic feel to it. It’s the type of writing that grips you and pulls you in from the first page. I was so enchanted by the layered characters, the rich worldbuilding, and the enchanting magic, I also appreciated the author’s use of symbolism, imagery, and sensory language, which brought the story to life. Lin is an incredible writer and has a gift for storytelling.
2. THE DYNAMIC CHARACTERS. The characters are well-developed and layered, and their stories are compelling. Ning is a fantastic protagonist – brave, honest, intelligent, and fierce. She has many different talents and an exceptional gift that helps her in the competition. Ning is also incredibly devoted to her family and those she cares about, and she selflessly fights for the betterment and happiness of others. I love Ning’s relationship with her sister, as well as her lovely recollections of her relationship with her mother. Other characters, including Ning’s friends, other competitors, potential enemies, and more are complex and layered, and I’m eager to learn more about them in the next book. The author also includes many morally grey characters with unclear motives, which I always love.
3. The WORLD-BUILDING & MAGICAL ELEMENTS. The story is inspired by Chinese and Taiwanese mythology and history, which is really fascinating, and I love how it is woven into all aspects of the story. The setting is a unique and richly developed society, and though it’s steeped in Chinese history, it also includes many original, and often magical, elements and characters. It is so richly developed that you can almost see the places Ning visits and smell the teas, foods, and other aromas that she observes. The descriptions are detailed, rich, and vivid but not burdensome and overbearing. And the magic elements are so fascinating, especially when it comes to tea-making!
4. THE INTRIGUE AND SUSPENSE. The story begins with Ning struggling over the death of her mother, and she is searching for a cure for her sister, who is dying from the same poison as her mother. There is a sense of urgency from the start, and it only builds as the story progresses, especially as Ning enters a magical and deadly competition to save her sister. The competition is intense, and there is a ton of political intrigue, societal turmoil, assassination attempts, and more that also heightens the suspense in this well-paced story.
5. THE POWERFUL MESSAGES. Themes about friendship, family, trust, honor, and fighting for what you believe in are prevalent throughout the book. There are also messages about the corruption of power, the inequities of social classes, the power of tradition, and the weight of grief and guilt. All of these messages add depth and poignancy to the novel.
I used to look at my hands with pride. Now, all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”
When you’re told since you came out of the womb that you can do anything, why would you ever hesitate? If you were told at birth that the world is supposed to bow down to you, you would think it natural that you are destined to climb.
I pull off the maidservant’s clothes, disgusted that I had thought of them as beautiful. The embroidered finery, the lovely flowing sleeves, all of it pretty and useless. Just another rope for them to bind us with. Looking down at my competitor’s robes, I remember how I felt when I pulled them on for the first time. The tentative hope, the brief break of sun through the clouds. The longer I reside in the palace, the more I realize that hope is an illusion.
Mother said there is power in words, in hopes we breathe into being. It dangles there before me, a dream once as far out of reach as the stars in the sky, my longing for a different life.
Tea for me is home, is joy, is family.
About the Author:
Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist, and still spends her nights dreaming up imaginary worlds of her own. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and daughter. A Magic Steeped in Poison is her debut novel.