Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison
Author: Judy I. Lin
Genre/s and Tags: Fantasy, Young Adult, Mythology, Historical Fiction, Magic, High Fantasy, Asian Literature
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.
Thank you to B2 Weird bookclub, Fierce Reads and Feiwel and Friends for a review copy in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own.
4.5/5 rounded up! I need everyone to pick up this book immediately!
A Magic Steeped in Poison features a magic system based on Taiwanese tea culture! This story follows Ning as she navigates the grief over her mother’s death and trying to find a cure for her sister who is deathly ill. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi, she travels to the imperial city to compete in the hopes that winning will grant her a favor to cure her sister.
Between dark court politics, backstabbing competitors and the challenging contest, Ning has her hands full. Not to mention Ning wasn’t actually her mother’s apprentice, so her knowledge about the art of brewing tea is not as strong as other competitors.
I was swept away by the world building and amazing magic system. I loved seeing Ning navigate the challenges of the shennong-shi. Competition books like this are some of my favorite fantasy books to read. The competition is so fun and cool. I loved the various events, except the one that involved birds. Ning’s skill and magic was so freaking cool. I loved that she could do so many things with tea and I need her to come over and make me so magic tea.
I loved Ning’s character. She was curious, protective and dedicated. I have a feeling we’ve only seen the tip of her magical abilities and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the sequel.
Chinese coded cast. Cis female MC, sapphic female side characters, achillean male side characters, various side characters are poisoned and terminally ill.
CW: Violence, bullying, grief, death of parent, classism, animal cruelty, animal death, death, attempted murder/murder, blood, medical content, injury/injury detail. Moderate: alcohol consumption, misogyny, sexism, terminal illness. Minor: vomit, confinement, torture, war.