Book Title:
A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Book Author:
Samantha Mabry
Publishing Date:
April 12th, 2016
Algonquin Young Readers
Date Read:
April 5th, 2016
I received a copy from the publisher - Thank you!


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.

My Review

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is one of those rare books that is as beautiful and captivating as you imagine it will be, based on that gorgeous cover.  Once you pick this book up, it’s going to draw you in, and you will instantly fall in love with its original characters, beautiful setting, and lyrical writing.

“How strong was the fabric of a story?
If it was well made, it was stronger than a human body.  It could hold up for years and years, never fraying, never growing stiff.”

Seventeen year old Lucas spends his summers in Puerto Rico with his father, in an old convent-turned-hotel with his developer father.  Since her father is constantly busy, Lucas is more or less free to run around with his friends and do as he pleases – from late night drinking, to afternoons on the beach, to parties and festivals, Lucas is always busy enjoying his summers as much as he can.

During his recent summer trip to Puerto Rico, Lucas meets Marisol, a local girl who he instantly develops feelings for.  While out one night, they stop at a house that is known to be cursed – it is rumored that a scientist lived there with his wife, neglecting her until the point where she went mad with depression.  It is said that they had a daughter there – a witch with green skin and plants for hair, and that if you write a wish on a piece of paper and toss it over the tall gate to the house, she will grant your wishes.   That evening, Marisol tosses her wish over the wall, harmlessly – but the next day, she goes missing.

With not only Marisol missing, but a young tourist girl named Sara, missing as well, the two disappearances are curious.  When Lucas makes a terrible discovery one night while out looking for Marisol, things take a turn for the worse, and Lucas ends up being the suspect in the girls’ disappearances.

When he meets Isabel, the young girl who is the daughter of the scientist (and the girl who can supposedly grant wishes), he is shocked to make several discoveries about her – including the reason why her father keeps all the poisonous plants around the house.

When Marisol’s younger sister, Celia, goes missing, Lucas turns to Isabel for help in figuring out what really happened.

This is book is amazing.  The mystery aspect of what happened to the missing girls is perfectly written, and it makes you wonder what’s going on for the better half of the book.  Lucas is such a great character – he’s determined to get to the bottom of things, and nothing stops him from figuring it out.

While I will admit that at the beginning of this book I had a little trouble getting into it, by the third or fourth chapter I was completely hooked and couldn’t put it down.  I saw a lot of mixed reviews on this, especially about the magical realism aspect, but honestly, I thought the author did a spectacular job making this book the perfect combination between fantasy and reality. 

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is one of those books I know I’ll end up reading again (and again).  It was so easy to get lost in the story, and I think I enjoyed it even more because it had a male main character (so many main characters in YA seem to be female these days), so it was a really nice change.  It was also completely different from other books, not only with the story line itself, but with the setting.  I loved how well the setting was described – it made me feel like I was actually there.  Samantha Mabry definitely has a gift for writing!

Definitely check this one out if you’re looking for something a little bit different – you won’t be disappointed!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, Reviews, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

  1. Pingback: All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry – Review and Giveaway | Here's to Happy Endings

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