I really wanted to like this book. I bought it based on the starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the other customer review here. I was pulled right in with the intriguing setup and riveted for the first half of the book. I had to suspend disbelief at many times to accomodate the needs of the plot, but the build up with the poison training (much the focus in the first third of the book) doesn't chase the story as one might expect from the title of the novel, so the ending feels like a bait and switch.
Midway through, I was starting to feel the ennui of deus ex machina devices to get the heroine out of tight situations. Always the same rescue, and never due to her own cleverness or judgment. By the time she starts to take care of her own business, the story has turned from fantasy political intrigue into hokey romance adventure. In fact, when the heroine picks up a weapon is when the intrigue takes a back seat.
The character Valek is too perfect; the Bad Guys are too maniacally evil. Political intrigue doesn't require Good vs. Evil. In fact, it works far better when the opponents are lighter shade of grey vs. darker shade of grey (something of which George R.R. Martin, mentioned in the PW review, understands).
One problem might be the first-person pov which gets us too close and gives too biased a story.
Snyder is a fine writer, technically, but she hasn't been able to escape a story arc found in most Adventure Romance novels. George R.R. Martin this is certainly not.