[Blogtour] Top 5 Reasons to read A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I Lin

Happy Weekend!
I had the privilege to read this book earlier this month. Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours. I read A Magic Steeped in Poison in March, and it was good to read again about brewing powerful teas and poisons after the long gap. The magic system in this book was amazing, as usual, and intense in this book. If you want to read more reviews on the book, you can check the tour schedule for more content.

Without further ado, let’s start this book tour.


Title: a venom dark and sweet

BY: judy i lin

Published: Feiwel and Friends

on: August 23, 2022

GENRE: ya fantasy (asian)

duology: The Book of Tea #2

pacING: medium

paGES: 352 ► aGE: 16+

Rating: 3/5 ★

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…


I received an eARC of this book from Feiwel and Friends courtesy of TBR and Beyond Tours in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

REP: south east asian charcaters; f/f relationship

This book has a POV upgrade. As someone who prefers reading multiple POVs, this book turned out to be a good upgrade over the previous one. Reading about Ning and Kang’s POVs opened doors to know their thought process better. Kang was different and sensitive than book 1; we see how much he regrets some of his choices and wishes he’d done things differently, which we wounldn’t have known if we had to rely solely on Ning’s account of the events.

A Darker tale than book 1. This book was definitely darker. It brought the worst of the emperor-regent’s army. They were cruel and never left anyone against them speak or breathe. This civil war cost their kingdom more damage than any good it could have brought.

At the end of the day, it was a game of throne. When royals are fighting for the same throne, we know things are about to get ugly. We had eight seasons of Game of Thrones to prove that. The emperor-regent was outright establishing his control over the kingdom through force and violence, aided by dark magic. Princess Zhen, on the other hand, never lost her humanity throughout this fight. She set her people as her priority and fought equally against the usurper. They both wanted the throne but are stubborn to not back down. The need to see who would ascend the throne was amplified after each chapter.

Characters who wanted to be left alone. The best part of reading Kang and Ning’s POVs was noticing their similarities. They didn’t want to be roped into the court politics. They just wanted to mind their own business and lives, which no one clearly got the memo. It was sad, in a way, because both these characters wanted a normal, boring life and not demons and army chasing after them.

Kang was a puppet nodding at everything his father demanded of him. He didn’t put up a fight initially, but was rebelling in his subtle way. Ning wasn’t any different. She wanted to heal people (her sister mainly) and make that as her career but she had no other choice but help the Princess fight and win this war. So both these characters were stuck in the worng place in the wrong time. If given another chance, I doubt if they’d make the same decisions again.

Brewing tea taps into more magic than ever. You should know by now that brewing tea is the basis of accessing magic in this book. It is a window for the Shennong-shi to connect to gods and know what awaits one in the future and use it for their (or the kingdom’s) benefit. Although, there was a new mix to it in this book, with a darker force tampering the magic, it ties up with the events of book one and the dreams that haunt Ning. The book ends on a postive note with a satisying ending for the duology.

TW // violence, fight scenes, witnessed torture, death, disturbing events (mutilation, body horror, forced suicide, possession, and fire

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.

website | twitter | instagram | GoodReads

Let’s Chat:

Have you read this duology? What other duologies have you read and would want me to read?

“So much of our daily lives can be measured in cups of tea.”

― Judy I Lin, A Venom Dark and Sweet


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