I received this book for free from NetGalley 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
Release date: April 12th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
At first I wasn’t so sure about this book. I read the first page and then put it down. I am so happy that I finally did give it a chance! The book is about a privileged white teenager, Lucas, who visits his property developer dad in Puerto Rico every summer. Each summer he heard stories about the mysterious house at the end of Calle Sol which is said to be cursed by a girl with green skin and grass for hair. Lucas only considered this story to be a folktale until one night he is attacked outside the cursed house. The next day, his would-be girlfriend goes missing. Lucas then embarks on a journey to discover the truth behind the disappearances and how the cursed house is related.
The author’s use of magical realism is really well done. I completely believed the events and characters of the novel, even the green skinned girl Isabel. I never once questioned the blending of magic and reality. I also think the sprinkling of Spanish throughout the novel was also well done. The book doesn’t overload you with Spanish (just some basic words and phrases), but it’s enough to help illustrate how Lucas is an outsider and never really trusted by the local population.
Lately I have been reading mostly stories with female leads, so it was refreshing to have a male protagonist. Lucas was brash and quite honest when explaining things to the reader (the book is told through his point of view). He’s most definitely not perfect and I liked that about him. My favourite character was Isabel, the cursed girl. She’s was so complex and conflicted about her condition and what lengths her and her father would go to keep her safe.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Fierce and Subtle Poison. It was interesting and kept me captivated from the beginning to the end. I’m looking forward to what Mabry will release in the future.