***Received from author through a giveaway*** (read/reviewed originally in 2015)
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers – Release Date: April 12, 2016
Pages: 278 (ARC), 288 (Hardcover)
Summary: 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.
* It’s pretty difficult to sum up this book in one review, b/c there was so much to this story, but I will definitely try my best :D!
This book was incredible! Samantha’s elegant and captivating writing style kept me hooked from start to finish.
Going into this book, I was unsure what to expect. Considering Laura Ruby, author of one of my favorite books from 2015 Bone Gap blurbed it, I knew I would really enjoy it, but I didn’t just enjoy it, I loved it!
As stated before, Samantha’s writing style delivered a vivid and magical story that I loved.
The supporting characters are written with such depth and complexity that I truly felt I knew them.
Lucas is a very kind and heroic main character. When his girlfriend Marisol suddenly disappears, he does everything he he can to piece together this mystery.
With Lucas not being Puerto Rican himself, we see just how out of place he feels and how alone he is. Also considering he does not see eye-to-eye with his father, who is completely different from Lucas.
As the story progresses, Lucas and Isabel team up, much to Isabel’s dismay, and try to figure out what is going on.
What I loved about Lucas and Isabel, was that their friendship was written not only beautifully but realistically. While Lucas tries to help Isabel feel less alone by becoming her friend, she constantly warns him to stay away, for good reason. It takes most of the book for them to develop and build their close friendship, but by the end you see just how different they’ve become because of it.
Samantha also shows Isabel’s ability in a unique and interesting way.
When she builds up too much poison, she has to be near plants and release it into them or she gets really sick.
With Isabel possessing this ability, she is under constant watch from her father and is forced to stay inside. Because of that we see, Isabel feels very alone, similar to Lucas.
As stated above, Isabel’s father also plays a huge role in this story. His protectiveness over Isabel stems from the relationship with Isabel’s mom.
We come to learn that Isabel’s mother was cursed and with that, Isabel became cursed herself. Reading about her mom’s backstory and what lead to Isabel and her father’s current relationship was truly heartbreaking 😥
As the story progresses, Isabel goes with Lucas to solve this mystery, but at a price. She begins to build up so much poison and is unsure if she will make it.
As the story comes to an end, we come to learn through certain circumstances, that Isabel’s father is responsible for the disappearing girls. With Isabel reaching her limit, Lucas knows he won’t be able to save her.
Sadly, Isabel doesn’t make it. But, Lucas comes to accept what happened and knows he will never forget.
*The ending is rather open-ended!
Overall, this was a captivating and magical debut! One I will never forget. If you are a fan of magical realism, looking for more diverse settings, or are just looking for a unique read I highly recommend this book!
If you have read this book/are planning to, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments 🙂