In this enchanting debut YA fantasy, a young tea-maker travels to the capital city to take part in a cutthroat magical competition that could be the key to saving her sister's life.
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 shénnóng-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.
Judy I. Lin's debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.
Ning’s sister is dying from poison she drank in tea - the same poison that killed her mother.
Ning feels responsible as she brewed the tea, and with her magical abilities she should have seen the poison.
When Ning gets the chance to compete against the best shennong-shi to find the finest tea maker of this ancient ritual, she leaves for the palace. The prize is a favour from the princess - and Ning hopes that this favour will save her sister.
But palace life and competition is far from simple. There are plots by the other competitors and court politics weaves its way into everything, and there is also the mysterious Kang who is hiding an immense secret. Ning quickly learns she must trust her instincts to make it through.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy book that is steeped in Chinese mythology from magic to the traditional tea making ceremony. Readers will love Ning and the strength of her character as she attempts to unravel who is on her side and who is trying to undermine the kingdom and the princess.
Fast-paced and with lots of twists and turns this will be a favourite with readers in Year 8 and above. I can’t wait for the second book to arrive!
Reviewed by Michelle