a magic steeped in poison review // magical tea + court politics = a perfect brew

Yes yes yes, I actually read a highly anticipated release within its release month! Maybe I’m finally growing as a reader…?

🫖 Tea magic!

🀄 Chinese-inspired world

👸 Court politics

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Where to begin? A Magic Steeped In Poison didn’t quite live up to my expectations but then again…not many books do. This story follows a girl named Ning who is desperate to find a cure for her sister who drank the same poisoned tea that killed her mother. When she hears about a compeitition to find the next royal shennong-shi (magical teamakers) she travels to the capital and gets swept up into court politics galore.

OKAY. Can we please make tea magic the next hot thing in YA? Like, magical competitions, magical schools, and magic tea needs to be the standard. My TBR pile would probably crush me out of spite but I want to start a petition for it. Anyways, this book made me hungry. There’s so much Chinese culture infused into these pages, and that includes all the delicious descriptions of food! But the tea. Look, I’m no Brit but I do enjoy a nice cuppa* tea occasionally. Lin’s writing style is simplistic but beautiful, and her descriptions of the nuances of tea and its magic were literally everything.

*if you are british…i am so sorry about this sentence

Speaking of tea magic, I adored the worldbuilding in this book! The politics! The plots! The pastries*! Ning has to deal with rich, stuck-up competitors, a mysterious (and possibly dangerous) boy, and royal plots. This is surprisingly slow-paced, but never really boring. The intrigue of the competition, as well as *other* things that happen keep this book relatively even on the pacing front. And while I liked Ning, I really liked a couple of the other characters even more (not going to spoil!).

*if pastries doesn’t make sense to you, just know it could have been worse bc in order to finish my alliterative parallelism, i originally put petunias in there

ALSO! The cliffhanger ending! Normally, I’d be very angry about this but the author has already written the sequel and it comes out in SEPTEMBER. So I honestly love the cliffhanger. I feel like it sets up the sequel nicely, and it’ll be the perfect transition into the world again come September.

Alright. Remember how I said this book didn’t quite live up to my (frankly unrealistic) expectations? I have two reasons for that: the romance, and the writing style. Let’s skip the romance and come back later, just because I’m lazy. I praised Lin’s writing style earlier because objectively? It’s great! It gets its point across while also evoking some nice imagery. Unfortunately, I just really didn’t connect with it. I’m such an articulate reviewer that I can say with incredible certainty that I have absolutely no idea why I didn’t love the writing. I guess it just didn’t flow into my mind properly*.

*idk what this even means next thing you know i’ll be screaming just around the riverbend from pocahontas because this review is a mess and i’m sorry

And yeah, the romance didn’t quite do it for me. I like the love interest and I like Ning but together I only saw the “forced YA romance” sparks.

Overall, I enjoyed this one! I think it could have benefited from being a little more complex, a little bit darker, a tad more mature…but that’s okay.

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13 thoughts on “a magic steeped in poison review // magical tea + court politics = a perfect brew

  1. this was such a lovely review kaya!! i honestly loved reading it, and can we just first appreciate how gorgeous that cover is? like, i know not to judge a book by it’s cover but damn, i would buy that in a heartbeat💖💖
    i’m sorry to hear this didn’t reach your expectations but you still enjoyed it! i will check this book out soon and will be in my tbr!! amazing post as always🍁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad I’m able to see what your thoughts are on this book! I also loved the worldbuilding (tea magic should be a must in future YA books) and the food made me extremely hungry as well. That being said, I have to agree with the romance: it felt quite forced and somewhat unnecessary. Maybe this book didn’t live up to my expectations, but it was still a fun ride for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AHHH KAYA, I LOVED THIS REVIEW SO SO MUCH!!1 and omg i COMPLETELY agree with all of the points you mentioned- the magic system is SO COOL AND UNIQUE?!?!?! like the tea magic was insanely cool!!! unfortunately the romance really brought my rating down as well, i didn’t *love* any of the characters either!! 😭

    Liked by 1 person

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