A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

AFSP“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.”

A YA debut from author Samatha Mabry, A Fierce and Subtle Poison tells the story of seventeen-year-old Lucas who spends his summers in Puerto Rico with his hotel-developer father.  Stories of a cursed girl filled with poison have become a part of the island, and having grown-up hearing the various myths and theories, Lucas has always wondered what is fact and what is fiction.  When his girlfriend goes missing at the same time that he begins to receive letters from the mysterious Isabel, his quest for the truth takes him down a dangerous path.

The concept and premise of A Fierce and Subtle Poison is very intriguing.  It is wonderfully written and the style of writing really fits the mood of the novel.  I found it easy to get into the story and once I started reading I was immersed in the mystery and the tales surrounding the cursed girl.  There was a point for me about three-quarters of the way through where my attention waivered and my interest and excitement for the story decreased, which I feel may have been as a result of a lack of connection to the characters.  There are many different avenues a story like this can take, especially when it comes to YA novels, and I appreciate where the author took the story and how it left off.  While I wish I could have connected more to the novel as a whole, I did find it interesting and enjoyable.  A Fierce and Subtle Poison is a wonderfully written debut with a compelling premise that I would recommend to fans of magical realism and mysteries.

*ARC provided by NetGalley.  Publication date: April 12, 2016.

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