Published by Algonquin Young Readers on April 12, 2016
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the señoras 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 was a beautiful, melancholy story that really moved me. It is a young adult magical tale that deals with Spanish folklore. I should also note that it is a standalone story (with a rather opened ended ending) Right from the start, I knew this book was going to be an elegant and vibrant read. The words drew me into their small town, and I too was looking right at the cursed house on end of the street.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison is unlike anything else I have read all year. (Who am I kidding- it is unlike anything I have read in several years.) I loved so many things about this book. I love how rich and steeped in culture and folklore the story is, I beyond loved the lyrical and stunning writing. This book was heavy with emotion. It is a sad read, but it was exquisitely beautiful in its’ tragedy. I have no other way to describe it. This is a book that moved me and impacted me. I also loved that the main character of this book, the character driving the story forward was a male protagonist. Lucas is drawn to the cursed house, and the girl that lives there. The book was just as much about her as it was about solving the mystery of the disappeared girls for Lucas. And I enjoyed that immensely.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison is a quick read that will leave a lasting impact on you. This is not a feel good book, or a light and fluffy book. I feel like this is a tragically beautiful book. (and yes, I know I have said the word beautiful 4 times in this review, but it really seems like the perfect word to describe the story.) If you are looking for a book that is different and one that will move you, check out A Fierce and Subtle Poison. I don’t think you will read anything else like it this year.
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