a venom dark and sweet – judy i. lin | blog tour + arc review

A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin

Series: The Book of Tea #2
Expected publication: August 23, 2022 by Feiwel and Friends
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Representation: Chinese cast


Rating: 4 out of 5.


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…

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound


Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tour for choosing me as one of the participants in the #AVenomDarkandSweet tour. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in the other tour stops, check out the schedule!

trigger and content warnings:
  • violence, fight scenes, witnessed torture, death, disturbing events (mutilation, body horror, forced suicide, possession, and fire).


Alongside Shu, Zhen, and Ruyi, Ning is on the run from the Banished Prince’s allies and power now that he’s on the throne. Princess Zhen needs to amass her own allies and take back her rightful place. As they travel through the lands, Ning realized that with her current shénnóng-shī abilities, she can’t do anything worthwhile. Not when a golden serpent is haunting Ning’s nightmares. 

Back at the palace, Kang’s father is now the emperor-regent and facing little resistance from everyone. Just because they like him, but because they fear him. Besides his father, Kang witnessed cruelty and ruthlessness when it came to usurping. 

Although the romance aspect isn’t that significant in A Venom Dark and Sweet, it’s pretty obvious that Ning and Kang still possess positive feelings for one another. Every time they had a moment with each other, despite all the obstacles between them, if they could be together, Ning and Kang would be a pair. Actually, I liked that the romance took a backseat since the world as they know it was going to be devoured by an evil serpent. Both Kang and Ning have their own roles to play to defeat the serpent.

“I am a daughter of Shénnóng. I heal, rather than hurt.”

The serpent is gaining control swiftly. Its influence spreads far and wide. It isn’t called the god of nightmares for nothing. Clues about the poison from A Magic Steeped in Poison are merging with the happenings of this continuation. After successfully reviving Shu from the poison, Ning has an unsettling connection with the serpent but her powers as a shénnóng-shī are gradually building up as well.

I would have loved exploring the world while Ning and her companions travel around searching for the relics of the gods. The world-building and development of the history of Dàxī could be done through that method. However, I’m not going to complain because this is Judy I. Lin’s book and this is how she chose to write the story. I adored what I read in A Venom Dark and Sweet. There are many conditions to consider, especially when the end of the world might arrive the next day. It’s hard for them to even survive one day without worrying about the worst. 

Overall, I had the best time. Judy I. Lin created a world with shénnóng-shī’s powers that originate from the tea. There’s a good balance of plot and character development in the entire duology. I adored Kang and Ning, as well as the rest of the crew. The alternate chapters with Kang and Ning’s points of view are always fun because I actually get to know what they’re thinking. The book is pretty straightforward and the plot is good. I can’t wait to see what Judy I. Lin will write next! 

Also, we got the entire duology within the same year. What?!

author information

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

5 thoughts on “a venom dark and sweet – judy i. lin | blog tour + arc review”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s