A Venom Dark and Sweet — Judy I Lin

A Venom Dark and Sweet — Judy I Lin

A Venom Dark and Sweet is the second book in The Book of Tea duology, one I would recommend if you really enjoyed A Magic Steeped in Poison (which I definitely did). The writing is as smooth as ever, and the prose moves the story along beautifully. Even in chapters full of hopelessness and despair, the author sprinkles in descriptions of food, which is at least part of what I loved about the first book, lol

I like how we see more of Ning’s relationship with her sister, Shu, whom Ning spends all of book 1 trying to save. Like Shu didn’t exist just to die and fuel Ning’s motive for vengeance, lol. I’m also glad that Shu is so different from Ning, because I think it is important to highlight different kinds of strength: explosive and assertive vs. calm and accepting. I do like how the sisters’ relationship flourishes in the best and worst of times.

What I did have a bit of a hard time with was the differences in POV approach, if that makes sense. I love me a good multiple-POV fantasy, but Kang and Ning are written in different times, voices (like first vs. third person), and… approaches. It did feel a bit disorienting jumping between Ning’s imminent situation, which gave me warm feelings of familiarity (and food), and Kang’s, which was mostly politics, military strategy, succession talks, etc. Sometimes I think it clashed a little. But even though the book went in another direction, it was still a fun and exciting adventure to follow.

(On the plus side, we do learn a lot more about Kang’s background and motives!)

Looking back, I think I get why this book was structured this way. Ning’s storyline anchored us into a more personal aspect of the story, while Kang’s POV made things come together on a more… overall? scale. Like Ning was plot and characters, and Kang was worldbuilding (politics, court intrigue, etc.). This will definitely appeal to readers who want more context and history to the series.

I thought A Venom Dark & Sweet was a fun read and a solid ending. Fans of A Magic Steeped in Poison will surely love it!

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