A Magic Steeped in Poison

Feiwel & Friends. (The Book of Tea: Bk. 1). Mar. 2022. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250767080.
Gr 9 Up–In a kingdom in turmoil, Ning sees a chance to save her sister by competing in the royal shennong shi trials, a magic that uses tea to heal and protect that she was taught by her mother. Wracked with guilt over brewing the tea that unknowingly poisoned her mother and sister, Ning believes this is the only way to save her sister Shu, and that she must win the trial in order to ask the princess for a cure. A chance encounter with a boy in a tea shop almost proves to be her undoing when it is revealed that he is the adopted son of the princess’s exiled uncle, but Ning proves herself worthy in the competition with her magic and her kindness. With so much to fight for, Ning has to balance court politics, the difficult tests, and romance as a dangerous plot surrounds the princess and threatens to tear the kingdom in two. Lush, descriptive prose sells the well-built magic system of this world, and every plot twist surprises and delights, making this a rich fantasy page-turner. As much a political thriller as a fantasy, this is a quieter, excellent companion to Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow and Chloe Gong’s Our Violent Delights. The ending will have readers begging for the sequel.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for any collection with a large fantasy readership.

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