POISON is a fun fairy-tale that moves along at a swift pace without delving too deeply into the dark, grim themes that are often found in YA fantasy. Because the fight scenes are swift and everyone lives to either go to prison or fight another day, and because the tone is mostly fun and upbeat, I'd recommend this to MG readers as well.
I really enjoyed the main character, Kyra. She's smart, resourceful, feisty, and loyal to her loved ones, but she isn't infallible. I enjoyed seeing her single-minded focus be tested, first by the unexpected addition of an adorable tracking pig to her quest, and then by the also adorable (and irrepressible) Fred. The interaction between Kyra and Fred made the book the fun adventure that it is.
The world is interesting. We aren't given loads of backstory. Instead, the story simply picks up in the middle of Kyra trying to steal something, and she makes references to rules, people, customs, and past events throughout the story until a picture begins to form for the reader. I was fascinated by the idea of a Potions Master being the top of the food chain. Usually, the man with the sword is the most dangerous in the kingdom (or the man with the magic wand), but this time, it's the smart, resourceful girl who applied herself in potions class.
The plot has some twists and turns, two of which I didn't see coming. I think readers will enjoy the plot if they don't try to hard to ferret out the mysteries and just sit back and enjoy the ride. This is a quick read, and between Kyra's voice, the obstacles that keep rising up to stop her quest, and the adorable Fred and Rosie (the pig), there's plenty to recommend this book.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I would've liked more world building in the long run. It feels as if there's certainly a lot more under the surface of Kyra's world. We get hints of it at the end, but the monsters that live in her kingdom, and the magic that seems to be a part of everyday life for many, are never explored in depth. Again, this might be why I feel so confident recommending this for Middle Grade readers. The darker themes are left mostly untouched.
More depth to the world building would've lent more depth to the plot itself. I was never actually worried that Kyra would die or wouldn't succeed, though I was very interested in how she would achieve the outcome. The suspense is minimal, but again, the main charm of this book is it's fun accessibility and flashes of humor.
POISON is a fun, charming story full of warmth and humor. It's perfect for younger YA readers and lovers of light fairy tales.