This Poison Heart
- Author: Kalynn Bayron
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: June 29, 2021
- Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
- Series: This Poison Heart #1
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, gore, death
Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron’s new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.
Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.
From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.
I knew Kalynn Bayron was talented after reading her debut, Cinderella is Dead, but this book really brought that point home and showcased her immense talent in the best possible way. It’s a gothic novel with Black girl magic, elemental powers, family secrets, a secret garden, LGBT rep, and Greek mythology running throughout. Plus, it’s topped off with a stunning cover. What’s not to love? In this case, you have my full approval to judge this book by its cover.
I’ve always loved stories that incorporate Greek mythology, but this one does it in a completely unique way in a field that is saturated in Greek myths. The plot was compelling from the start, rapidly snowballing until it picked up an amazing amount of speed in the last quarter of the book. I found myself simultaneously rushing towards the end and dreading the end, because it meant that I’d run out of book and I just wanted to keep reading this amazing piece of art.
Briseis is a compelling main character, one that I easily identified with and wanted to see her do well. She’s both loyal to her family and struggling with loneliness. Her elemental magic keeps her isolated from her friends, making it difficult to maintain close friendships. When she has an estate left to her by a dead relative that she’s never met, she has a chance to start over in a new place, surrounded by plants. But it brings a whole new set of difficulties, and she does’t quite know who she can trust.
I enjoyed meeting the people around her as well, with the characters having their own engaging personalities. There were plenty of humorous aspects to the story, and I found myself chuckling many times as I read. Bayron works in pop culture references so effortlessly and naturally, it’s a perfect example of YA authorship.
I only had two complaints about the story. My first is that one of the characters was clearly suspicious, and Briseis never picked up on anything about it. It seemed blatantly obvious to me, and as soon as the first clue appeared, my wheels started turning, even though nothing ever clicked for Briseis until literally everything got spelled out. The other was the way that Briseis and her love interest had a kind of insta-love connection, rather than having things develop a bit more slowly and naturally. Other than that, this book was damn near perfect, and I’m already dying to get my hands on the next book (as soon as it comes out). Yep, it’s that good.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 10
Categories: Book Review