A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the señoras 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.
I was so excited to read this book, so intrigued by the premise, and I'm equally disappointed that it didn't live up to my hopes. The plot was clumsy and the pacing was erratic, so that it was difficult to really get caught up in the story. The characters were only minimally developed and not always easy to relate to.
Some parts of the book, like the inclusion of Puerto Rican folklore, were really enjoyable, and like I said, the premise was really cool. Which I suppose is why I'm so disappointed by this book - it had so much potential, and I think if it had been told differently, it would have been an amazing novel. If Isabel had been the narrator, the mystery aspect of the story would have had so much more impact (honestly I'm so sad that instead of being narrated by a cursed, half-native girl in the heart of a mystery the novel is narrated by a rich white boy from the mainland). If the author had spent more time developing and exploring the characters, it might have been a truly moving story. If the pacing had been smoother and the plot less clunky, I might have been swept away by this book.
But I wasn't. For me, this book was just an entertaining read for a boring Saturday.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.