Hey all! Quick review today for the sequel to A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin, which only came out earlier this year!
A Venom Dark and Sweet picks up straight after the events of the the first book, so beware if you’ve yet to pick up AMSIP yet as there will likely be spoilers.
I really adored this finale to the duology, and you can read my full review below for why!
About the Book
Title: A Venom Dark and Sweet
Series: The Book of Tea #2
Author: Judy I. Lin
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (US) Titan Books (UK)
Release Date: August 23rd 2022 (US) January 17th 2023 (UK)
Source: US hardcover purchased because I couldn’t wait for the UK paperback edition, again 💜
The enthralling conclusion to Judy I. Lin’s Book of Tea duology—A Magic Steeped in Poison and A Venom Dark and Sweet—is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.
A great evil has come to the kingdom of Dàxi. The Banished Prince has returned to seize power, his rise to the dragon throne aided by the mass poisonings that have kept the people bound in fear and distrust.
Ning, a young but powerful shénnóng-shi—a wielder of magic using the ancient and delicate art of tea-making—has escorted Princess Zhen into exile. Joining them is the princess’ loyal bodyguard, Ruyi, and Ning’s newly healed sister, Shu. Together the four young women travel throughout the kingdom in search of allies to help oust the invaders and take back Zhen’s rightful throne.
But the golden serpent still haunts Ning’s nightmares with visions of war and bloodshed. An evil far more ancient than the petty conflicts of men has awoken, and all the magic in the land may not be enough to stop it from consuming the world…
A Venom Dark and Sweet begins pretty much straight after the cliffhanger events of AMSIP, though instead of Ning’s perspective (our only one in book one) we have the point of view of Kang, which is a lovely addition because he was so mysterious in the first book and it was great to see more of an insight into his life through the more personal lens.
It was hard to see his true character in AMSIP, inherently good or bad? Yet I absolutely adored him regardless. When he’s eventually reunited with Ning it was lovely to see their connection again, and his newly introduced perspective also tied in very nicely with Ning’s shénnóng-shi magic. Bonus points as well for this main romance being an enemies-to-lovers one, because I think most of us really enjoy when that particular romantic element is used in a story!
Book one was full of a lot of mysterious elements to the world, and the revelation at the end opened up the extent to Lin’s fabulous world-building where the gods are incorporated into the story. This is built upon even more in VENOM and you end up with a lot of revelations that add even more depth to a powerful story.
“The bond of family is a kind of magic all its own.”
We have a couple of important new side characters in VENOM, but the original found family is still most important. Having Shu stay by Ning’s side is a great move too as we see more of their endearing relationship. My favourite side characters were Zhen and Ruyi though, I loved seeing their sweet relationship in the first book and seeing more of them together was adorable; I’d happily read another book that’s just a slice of life story of the two being cute and happy together.
Essentially, if you enjoyed A Magic Steeped in Poison then you’ll love A Venom Dark and Sweet, and if you’ve yet to read AMSIP then please make sure to if you love fantasy stories! I can’t wait to read Judy’s next books.
PSA: Make sure you have snacks at hand whilst reading this duology, and tea. All of the food and drink descriptions are mouth-watering.
Have you read A Magic Steeped in Poison yet?
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