Mostly Spoiler-Free
I’m pretty sure every plant on this piece of art is poisonous, maybe even deadly. Bold colours to catch your eye and still easy to read. Cover by Allison Colpoys.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison, I am happy to say, is as good a book as it’s cover. I took a chance on this one, having never heard of it before. The cover told me the bare minimum about the book, but the first sentence of chapter 1 told me everything else I’d need to know:

“I met Marisol on a Sunday night, two days before her body washed up on Condado Beach.”

The story expertly weaves myth and legend with the actual happenings in the book. The foreshadowing was the best I’ve seen in a long while. Samantha Mabry also hints at a whole other world she created in pieces of dialogue and other small details and in my opinion it was masterfully done.

Lucas Knight, our protagonist, was an outsider to the setting and other characters. Though irritating at times, especially in the beginning, I appreciated his point of view as he discovered more and more, allowing us—also outsiders—to follow along at a pace we could keep up with.

The other characters often fell flat. I kept getting Luke’s friends mixed up and some other minor characters weren’t as well-rounded as I would’ve liked. This is a book that stands on novelty more than character or plot. In this case, the novelty is a poisonous girl. But don’t get me wrong—there is character development (more on that later). There’s a good plot, too, it’s just not necessarily in the direction you might expect.

Frankly, I loved this book. If you’re interested in reading it, I’d say keep an open mind and go with the flow to get the most out of what Mabry has to offer.

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By the end of the book, nothing has really changed. But Lucas has changed and because we follow his POV, everything looks different. Some people might not like that nothing was physically different, but that wasn’t the point.

Also, Mabry leaves things quite open to interpretation. The past is a whole other world which we get to know through guesses, stories, and legends. In the end, it’s up to us to decide if that world existed or not and whether it will return. Maybe it already has.