Friday, June 3, 2016

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Title: A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Rating: 2/5

The Gist: Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the seƱoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.


A Fierce and Subtle Poison features some absolutely beautiful writing and an incredibly lush landscape.  It is wonderful to see a non-American setting as it is not all that common in YA.  There was a fantastic incorporation of story telling, culture, and folklore.  I am always a sucker for Magical Realism and love seeing more of it within the YA genre.  

Unfortunately, the novel also features a white main character with a hero complex.  Though he is called out on it, it really impacted my enjoyment of the novel, to the point where I really hated him.  As a matter of fact, I did not find any of the characters particularly appealing.  It also featured two father figures, both of whom were horrible people and terrible role models. 

While the story should have been an exciting murder mystery, it just didn't feel that way.  Instead, it seemed like most of the novel followed the main character as he ran through the rain for one reason or another.  There also seemed to be no reason that the kids couldn't have informed the police at several different points throughout the plot. 

While I appreciate the writing, I just couldn't get past my loathing for all the characters and it made this one less than enjoyable. 


Post a Comment