I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Published by Algonquin Books on April 12th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Magical Realism, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Romance, General
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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
A Fierce And Subtle Poison by debut author Samantha Mabry is an intoxicating book featuring magical realism and an impossible, against-the-odds romance. So basically, this is absolutely an April Books & Wine kind of book and I am hoping a you kind of book as well. After receiving quite a few emails about the book and an ARC and later a hardcover in the mail, I decided to make A Fierce And Subtle Poison one of my April 2016 priority books. By impulse, I threw it on my Dewey Readathon Stack and at some point in the afternoon, I began reading Mabry’s debut with a bit of gusto in different locations – from my basement library to outside where the wind would not stop whipping to back inside in the living room. I was engrossed in this story.
A Fierce And Subtle Poison is set in modern day in Puerto Rico. It’s narrated by this white boy named Lucas who lives in Houston for most of the year, but during the summer he and his developer father live in a hotel on Puerto Rico. Lucas’s mom has abandoned the family. Anyways, Lucas is really good with girls and he starts hanging out with this girl named Marisol, only her body washes up on the beach and that’s the end of that. However, another girl catches his attention – one who lives a life in seclusion due to a mysterious disease and has only had contact with her botanist father. When Marisol’s younger sister goes missing, it is up to Lucas to clear his name and find her, while also unraveling the mystery of the girl who lives in the house at the end of Carre Sol.
Lucas definitely is a privileged teenager and this is addressed multiple times throughout the book – as well as resentment that is often felt towards Lucas. I’ll admit, I thought Lucas was kind of a dick and was not a huge fan of how he treated girls. Yet, he does grow to be less selfish which is good. He’s also a compelling and realistic character. Eventually you do find yourself rooting for the main character of A Fierce And Subtle Poison.
So, I said the romance is intoxicating and that’s true. It’s also true that it is definitely forbidden. Like to the point that the girl’s father does some not so wonderful things to discourage it. This is also where the magical realism comes in. It is where we discover that the girl is cursed. And also that the locals believe she can grant wishes and there’s some legends and stories that surround her. For a romance that has no kissing – for good reason – A Fierce And Subtle Romance has quite the chemistry between the two leads. It’s actually a bit surprising just how much tension there is in this book.
I feel like this is the first book that I’ve read that’s been set in Puerto Rico. After reading, I would love to visit Puerto Rico, even though I would totally be one of the annoying tourists depicted in the book. Mabry creates a vivid setting that you can easily picture – from the streets to the ocean to the sands of the beaches. I felt like she really has this talent for writing a book that is an immersive experience.
If you’ve read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Laura Esquivel or Isabelle Allende, you’ll be familiar with Mabry’s writing style. I love this sort of magical realism. And also that there was not a magical power or solution to the issue at hand. A Fierce And Subtle Poison is an excellent read that really will suck you in to a story of curses, family, and a blooming romance.
Other reviews of A Fierce And Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry:
The Social Potato – “it failed to deliver when it came to portraying realistic characters or an engaging plot”
The Midnight Garden – “It is incredibly beautifully written, you all.”
Beauty And The Bookshelf – “I think the writing was okay”
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