Poison Study is the story of a novice food taster Yelena. She escapes execution by obtaining the job of the Commander's food taster. The story takes place in a fictitious communist dictatorship. There is magic, fighting, a little romance, and lots of twists and turns. Yelena is a strong female heroine that leave you wondering if you would be tough enough to endure what she does.
Maria V. Snyder is an author that I have grown to really love. Poison Study is the first in a trilogy of "study" books. The sequels are Magic Study followed by Fire Study. In addition, Snyder has recently begun a spin off series for one of the characters you meet in Fire Study. I really like Snyder because she likes her own characters and understands her fans. I subscribe to her newsletter and she sends out awesome short stories every other month. I'm not a huge fan of those pretentious authors that have some kind of love/hate relationship with their main character or the ones who don't understand how attached people get to their characters. So far I can recommend all of her books. The most recent, Storm Glass, is not my favorite of hers, but I still love the world she has created and will continue reading her works.