I'm speechless

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I'm speechless. Everything about this book is just perfection. The cover alone is enough reason to read it, but it's full of lyrical prose, stunning magic, and a plot that's unlike anything I've ever read. While it may be geared more towards a YA audience, I didn't lose anything by reading it as an adult. The premise of tea-making being arcane really wowed me and the processes of its brewing were described in such a delicate way. Adding in the contest to become the new shennong-shi and allllll of the political intrigue? I'm sold. The way that Judy I. Lin writes about everything from tea to swordplay is truly magical and I can't wait to read the finale to this duology. I can't wait to read it over and over again.

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it's her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom's greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning's only chance to save her sister's life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.