Book Review: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

Good morning! Happy Halloween! I know this isn’t very Halloween-themed, but I am absolutely sitting down this morning to read a bit and drink some tea before it gets too crazy today. I hope you can all do the same! Make sure to grab some tea this time because this book is all about tea! Enjoy 💕

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Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison
Author: Judy I. Lin
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Genre: Historical Fantasy Fiction

A full sensory experience packed into a beathtakingly beautiful novel

At a glance: In a desperate attempt to save her sister after she drank poisoned tea, Ning travels to the kingdom to compete to be the best shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making in hopes of winning a favor from the princess.

  • ✒️ Debut Author
  • 🌏 East Asian Rep
  • 🎶 Lyrical Prose
  • 👑 Non-European Royalty

Read this if… you love magical competitions, you like tea (even a little bit), if you love beautiful lyrical writing, or if you just can’t stop staring at that stunning cover!

Diversity Representation: OwnVoices Chinese cast

Content Warnings: Death of a parent (previous), grief, betrayal, framing, murder, attempted murder

Book Review

Lyrical, sensory, beautiful, magical, stunning, warm, rich, aromatic, bright

A Magic Steeped in Poison swept me away in an aromatic and enchanting story. The very first thing I noticed after picking up this book was the beautiful writing matches the cover so perfectly. The writing is lyrical, flowing, beautiful, and steeped in stunning Chinese imagery. I found myself smiling to myself at small moments of calm and beauty. The way that the writing is entwined with tea is breathtaking and brought me so much joy. I have never read a book that weaves the central theme into a book so well as A Magic Steeped in Poison. It was really stunning.

After losing her mother to poisoned tea, Ning blames herself because she was the one who served the tea. Now she might lose her sister to the very same poisoned tea. In what feels like her last hope, Ning hears of a competition in the kingdom to find the greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making. Desperate to save her sister, Ning travels to the kingdom and enters the competition in hopes of winning a favor from the princess.

I love stories with magical competitions in them. They’re always so much fun and a real chance for the author to play around with the way that the magic works in the world they created. (I actually love them so much, I have a whole list of books with magical competitions!) It creates an environment for competition and politics to get tangled in the plot in such a (seemingly) effortless way. A Magic Steeped in Poison does not disappoint in giving us a beautiful competition but also makes sure to add drama and intrigue outside of the competition. It gives the story the rich body and depth of flavor just like the central teas.

The writing and connections to tea are truly outstanding. The writing feels like flowers dried into tea leaves. The magic feels like steam rising out of hot tea. The magical connection between Ning and Kang feels like a calm afternoon reconnecting over tea when you have nowhere else to be, it perfectly encompasses the intimacy of sitting with an old friend over a cup of tea. There is not a single moment that doesn’t feel right at home with the tea theme. I was astonished by the entire book how every detail was brewed into the tea theme, not only in plot but in energy, aroma, and flavors. It is truly a sensory experience.

Summing it all up

A Magic Steeped in Poison is as beautiful as the cover. The book beautifully incorporates the tea theme into every single ounce of this book and makes it come alive, just like the magic system. Everything is so well-rounded that the entire reading experience feels like drinking a hot cup of tea.

*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

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About the Author

Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist, and still spends her nights dreaming up imaginary worlds of her own. She lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and daughter. A Magic Steeped in Poison is her debut novel.


Let’s chat!

🍵 Have you read any other books that were complete sensory experiences?
🍵 How excited are you to read this book??
🍵 What is your favorite tea?!

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar pretty writing and beautiful magic:


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Added to my TBR – A Magic Steeped in Poison! It sounds absolutely stunning!

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