Monday, March 8, 2021

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron


Gorgeous cover aside, I'm going to need everyone who enjoyed Tracy Deonn's LEGENDBORN to add this to their TBRs a.s.a.p., because this book does with Greek mythology what that book did with Arthurian legends: strong Black heroine, magical heritage, Gothic elements, and family secrets. Can you say "YES"? Because I can.

THIS POISON HEART is about a girl named Briseis. She works in a flower shop with her two moms and she has a natural affinity for plants. An affinity that makes them approach her like friends and grow at super-speed. Also, she's immune to poison. I was thinking to myself, "Oh my God, she is literally like Poison Ivy" and was delighted when one of the characters in the book comes to a similar conclusion. Apparently this is also a Secret Garden retelling, but I'm just going to run with the Poison Ivy comparison. She even sort of meets her own Harley Quinn to be her BFF/love interest.

Anyway, Briseis finds out that her birth mother left her a house that comes with its own apothecary and garden and that's where things get weird. Because other people are interested in the garden and some of them are benign but some of them not so. And the deeper Briseis delves into the history of her family and her garden, the more she learns what's really at stake.

I obviously really enjoyed this book. It's the sort of light and breezy YA novel that I crave, and it didn't pull any punches. The last quarter was brutal and I can't wait to see where the author goes from here in telling Briseis's story. There's a lot to love in this book: beautiful descriptions of plants and nature, elemental magic (a weakness of mine), fairytales and mythology, LGBT+ rep, a main character who loves and will do anything for her family, and a really driving sense of pacing that kept me turning the pages even as part of me wanted to make this last so I could hold onto the story longer.

My only complaint is that it suffers from a problem a lot of YA books have: insta-love. I wish the relationship between Briseis and her love interest had been developed just a little more gradually and that there was more will they/won't they? before they finally got together (call me an evergreen, because I'm a sucker for a good pine).

That said, I seriously can't wait to read the sequel.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

4 out of 5 stars

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