Friday, 26 February 2016

'A Fierce and Subtle Poison' by Samantha Mabry Review

'A Fierce and Subtle Poison' by Samantha Mabry
Review by Christopher Moore

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.

It was the combination of title and cover that brought A Fierce and Subtle Poison to my attention on Net Galley. I read the synopsis and seriously, how could I not read it? It took a single page to hook me on its lyrical, magical prose that delights and excites. Though dissimilar in theme to E. Lockhart's We Were Liars, I couldn't help but feel echoes of its style in Mabry's work. It's very readable with the words painting a visceral and vivid picture in the mind.

I adore the Puerto Rican setting; a breath of fresh air from the city settings of so many YA stories. I swear, either Mabry has lived a significant period of her life in Puerto Rico or she researched it thoroughly and infused it seamlessly into her plot and characters. The protagonist is likable though I don't think he's the most interesting part of the story. Isabel is an incredible character; she's dark and dangerous, the monster that haunts the island but is she really? There's so much more to her and her story than meets the eye that will have you tearing through the pages into the early hours of the morning.

I don't want to spoilt the story for anyone so I'm going to park this review here. It's a sensational debut; a murder-mystery meets magical realism; a balance of light and dark. Not only is  it the best book I've read so far this year, it's one of the best I've read in the last twelve months. A must for fans of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars and Moira Fowley-Doyle's The Accident Season.

Rating: 5/5 Stars  ★ ★ ★ ★
Christopher Moore:
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-five year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

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