20 Apr 2022

Archive Review: A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON by Samantha Mabry

Archive Reviews is a new series here on Books and Ladders where I post reviews that I have posted on other blogs, websites, or platforms, but never on here!

Revisit some of my past opinions, learn about new books to you, and see what I was reading in the past!


Author: Samantha Mabry
Series: N/A
Source: eARC from Publisher
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the seƱoras 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. 
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little underwhelmed by this one but it was still a good book. I guess I thought from the description that there would be a bit more magic and a little less introspection. It was almost as if the book couldn't decide if it wanted to fully be magical realism or not. I think I was anticipating more magic or at least have it be integrated into the world a bit more. I thought that there just wasn't enough. But let's break it down.

What Worked:
Lucas fully acknowledging he had a hero/saviour complex -- and allowing someone to call him out on it without getting too mad. I thought that Lucas was actually a really well written character and that it was refreshing to have a male protagonist in this story. I thought he was critical enough of Isabel while still realizing that she did some horrible things. 

Isabel -- to an extent. I liked that she wanted to make her own destiny and that she collected all the wishes. I liked that she wanted to get better but not to the extent that her father wanted. I also kind of liked that she passed on her wish collecting to Lucas in a sense.

What Didn't:
The plot was ehhh. I think the problem was this was your typical contemporary mystery with some "magic" sprinkled in. But there wasn't enough of either element to make it pop to me. I didn't think the tension was high enough for Lucas to really be worried about getting charged with the murders and I think it was pretty obvious from the get-go who was even committing the crime. I also felt like the magic aspects were thrown in once the  "rest" of the plot was created. But it just didn't balance for me.

Isabel literally wanted someone dead because the girl liked Lucas. Come on, can't we have something different for once. *sighs*

Overall this is a decent book and there are some interesting aspects to it, but I would recommend checking it out at the library first before buying it.

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

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