Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison | Another Hit For Magical Realism

Friday, January 29, 2016
So first off, sorry for disappearing off the face of the blogosphere for an entire week! School was hectic, and I didn't like not being able to blog, let me tell you. But now that you are rest assured of my continuous existence, let's get on with the review!

Last year, I very hesitantly ventured into the unknown land of magical realism, but now, I can proudly say I never want to leave. Magical realism is an amazing genre if you can pull it off well. A Fierce and Subtle Poison was a bit weird for me, though. I really liked the magical realism aspect of it, but there was strange pacing and I don't know if I love the characters all that much. 

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.

The writing style! PERFECTION. It was dreamy and flowing and magical, which is EXACTLY the type of writing I would expect from a book like this. When you read, you get a very day-dreamy feeling, as if you're looking at everything with glasses that makes everything more vibrant and surreal. The story is also told from a male POV, which was a nice change.

The characters. I know I said I didn't like the characters, but that was because of their personalities. How the author characterises these personalities, however, is amazing! The development is good, and I love how three-dimensional Lucas, Isabel and Dr. Ford were. The characters were complex, and I admire the author for being able to create such wonderful characters.

The concept behind the book. A girl whose very touch is poison to others? BINGO! The idea was very well-executed, unique and overall just awesomesauce.

The setting. Okay, someone PLEASE take me to Puerto Rico because I HAVE to visit there now that I've read this book! I LOVED the culture and the utter magicalness (shush, I invented the word right now), and I absolutely adored how the author portrayed it in this book. This book has brownie points just for not being set in the US, but how the author so vividly and magically described Puerto Rico just takes the cake.

 The pacing. It was slightly off. The book was slow and steady in the beginning, but really accelerated near the end. If I had to use one word to describe it - wonky. Yes, wonky. The change from slow to fast happened really abruptly, and it felt a bit weird to me.

The character personalities. Maybe this is just a "it's-not-you-it's-me" thing, but I didn't really like the personalities of Lucas and Isabel. Still, this is extremely subjective, so even if I didn't like them, you might, so don't pay much attention to me!

The ending. From a very literary point of view, I suppose the ending was excellent, but if I stop being objective about this book, then I have to say that I didn't like the ending. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but it's very open, and not that happy. BUT, like I said, YOU might love endings like this, so please don't let me stop you from giving this book a try, because it really is very good!


A Fierce And Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release date: April 12 2016
Genre: Magical Realism
*Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC!*


so what are your thoughts? are you willing to give this book a try? how much do you like magical realism?


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