A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin
Read before: No
Ownership: Somehow I ended with 3 copies of it because I preordered it twice and also had one from the publisher.
Apparently, if you say your book is about tea and magic, I might end up accidentally preordering it twice (Waterstones had a sprayed edges version that is absolutely stunning). In case anyone had doubts, I really wanted to read it. And I have no regrets.
A Magic Steeped in Poison follows the story of Ning, as she makes her way to the capital city so she can compete and maybe become the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making so she can earn a favour from the Princess and save the life of her sister.
I absolutely loved the magic system in the book, come on, it is all about tea and herbs but it is also about intent and connections and Ning is genuinely a country bumpkin who just wants to save her sister and accidentally ends up in the middle of a big political conflict plus a fierce competition. And obviously the rich people that are all fancy pansy do not want Ning, the peasant to win a competition and be the greatest, so she also has to survive that chaos of prejudice and people fighting dirty during the competition.
Alongside that, there is a lot about political scheming, Ning being used and having to play her cards close to her chest while battling the feelings in her heart and her main goal of saving her sister. She keeps accidentally being in the right place wrong time or right place right time and listening to things she should not or being involved accidentally and I loved it. Her character was refreshing and I enjoyed reading the whole story.
If you like tea, magic, meet cutes, conflict, competitions in the midst of political scheming, then this is totally the book for you.