Review: A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON by Samantha MabryA Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Published by Algonquin Books on April 12th 2016
Pages: 288
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Magical Realism, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Romance, General
eARC provided by Algonquin Books

AmazonBook Depository

In this stunning debut, legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison.   Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the senoras 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 beautifully blends magical realism with a page-turning mystery and a dark,  starcrossed romance--all delivered in lush, urgent prose.
"A breathtaking story in which myths come to frightening life and buried wishes might actually come true. This is a hypnotic debut by a remarkable talent." --Nova Ren Suma, author of The Walls Around Us and Imaginary Girls  

Reading time 2 mins

This story is set in Puerto Rico. The main character is Lucas, a gringo, who spend summers on the island with his dad. A Fierce and Subtle Poison starts right off with the myth of the girl with green skin and grass for hair. She lives at the cursed house at the end of Calle Sol. People dream of her and Lucas just wants to know if she is real. When Lucas’ latest fling, Marisol, disappears Lucas starts getting notes from the mythical girl.

The author of this book uses beautiful descriptive language to tell the story of a boy that I didn’t really care for. He spends his summers in a room at the hotel his father owns. Lucas is a privileged gringo who has way too much time on his hands. There are some encounters with other boys on the island, but I mostly see Lucas as thinking he is better than his friends. Of course, he is the only one the mythical girl, Isabel, wants to communicate with.

Isabel was a bit of a mystery, even now I still don’t understand her. Her father married a woman who was cursed, which resulted in a cursed child. Isabel is poison, literally. She surrounds herself with poisonous plants. The people there dream of her and throw wishes over the wall of her home. Lucas and his friends throw their wishes over too, but they don’t like to admit that they believe in the myth. The story starts with her story, or the myth of her anyways. I wish this pacing would have continued, but once we started to focus on Lucas I lost interest.

I wanted to love this book. The author talks about the island as if it is a small town. The descriptions enabled me to imagine this place, this real place, without any difficulty. I kept reading because of that beautiful writing. But, the story didn’t flow well. Lucas was a flat and unimpressive male lead. Isabel was far too accessible to be that much of a mystery. The ending was kind of adventurous, but then that too fell flat. I left this book with a meh feeling and I hate that.

My Rating


About Samantha Mabry

samantha was born four days before the death of john lennon. she grew up in dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

she spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.

A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) is her first novel.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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