Book Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison

20 Oct

25810644Last week I tweeted, “I’ve got hives from working in my garden… or is it from reading ‘A Fierce and Subtle Poison’ by ” but in all actuality I ended up with a fairly severe case of poison ivy (which I’ve never had before) and let me tell you, it is majorly uncomfortable!  But, I’m laughing to myself because I just finished A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry last week and my poison ivy fits right into the story line.

Lucas spends the majority of his time on the mainland of the  U.S. going to school, but during the summer months he lives in one of his father’s hotels on Puerto Rico.  Lucas grew up listening to the señoras stories of the house surrounded by walls and wild plants growing all around. They say Isabel, a young girl with green skin and grass for hair lives there tending to the poisonous plants that surround the home.  Lucas has heard stories of wished granted and of death if she touches you.  And when a few girls around the island start disappearing, including his girlfriend, Lucas must confront Isabel to learn the truth in the stories and learn what really happened to his girlfriend.

I really enjoyed this story, with a magical realism that permeates the stories told by the señoras and the story surrounding the mysterious house.  I also really liked the relationships between Lucas and the islanders – even though Lucas is biracial, he “looks” white and with an affluent father who can get him out of trouble by paying people off, Lucas finds himself at the heart of the investigation surrounding his girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance.  Although very different in nature, the story reminds me a little of The Jumbies with fantasy wrapped in island culture and stories.

Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Stories about the girl surrounded by walls living with poisonous plants invade Lucas’s dreams until he meets her and learns the truth.

Title: A Fierce and Subtle Posion
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 2016
Page Number: 288 pgs.

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