Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Review: A Fierce & Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Source: Received a copy from Thomas Allen & Son while working there. All opinions are my own, and are a reflection of my personal feelings surrounding the story.
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Number of Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
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 was absolutely wonderful! I loved the writing, and as soon as I started reading, I couldn't put it down! I had to actually force myself to go to bed so that I wouldn't be exhausted for work in the morning. :P

I loved Lucas as the narrator, and found it refreshing to have a male protagonist for this story. His perspective kept the story moving at a quick pace, and I really enjoyed seeing the story from his point of view because he was almost as much of an outsider to the culture as I was. I loved the mystery surrounding Isabel, too, and I think that's why I loved that Lucas was the narrator. I liked not knowing what to expect from Isabel, so Lucas was perfect! He also was completely unapologetic in his womanizing ways...and I actually found that I appreciated that. He was upfront with both the girls he fooled around with, and with the reader when he told us about them. :P

As for the plot and the story itself, I absolutely loved it all! I really enjoyed the Puerto Rican stories, and loved the magical realism of the story. I don't often read mysteries, but I thought the mystery was really well done, too. It was intriguing, and definitely kept me guessing. Lucas was also a bit of an unreliable narrator sometimes, so that made the mystery even better! The ending was a little bit open-ended, which I'm not a huge fan of, but I think it reflected the magical aspect of the story extremely well. Just like Lucas, we don't know what magic is really possible in his world...and it left me extremely curious and excited to see what Samantha Mabry comes up with next!

Overall, I absolutely loved A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON. It was captivating, and incredibly unique. I loved the characters, and the story was well-written and extremely interesting! It was also super refreshing to see a story set in Puerto Rico, and I loved hearing the folk stories and how Spanish was woven into the dialogue of the story!!! I'd recommend A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON to fans of magical realism, and also to readers who are looking for some diversity in their YA!

I was extremely excited to have the chance to read A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON and it definitely didn't disappoint!

What do you think?
Does it sound like a story that you would enjoy?
Have you ever read any magical realism?


  1. Ah! It's always a treat to have a male narrator isn't it?! We get so many female protagonists and while I enjoy them, it's nice to mix things up :) The plot sounds like it was fast paced and I enjoy magical realism too so I really need to check this one out! Lovely review Ambur^^ xxxx

    1. It really is!! YA is definitely full of female narrators, so I'm always excited to see male narrators!! :D It was definitely fast-paced, sometimes even frantic, which I loved!!! You definitely should. I think you'd enjoy it. :) Thanks, Micheline! :D


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