Though I truly delighted in every page of Poison, I can see where it might not be everybody’s cup of cocoa. It’s all going to depend on your expectations and what you’re into. Thankfully, I went in with fairly low expectations and a feeling that the book would be flufftastic. It IS. There is NOTHING wrong with some well done fluff, and I had a big grin on my face the whole way through, so what is better than that?
If you’re in the mood for nuanced world building and a focus on Kyra’s work as a poisoner, you are going to be disappointed. I’m not saying this to be mean, because I loved this book. Thankfully, that’s not what I was looking for and I don’t think it’s what the book was trying to do. Poison is sheer, character-driven entertainment. In fact, Poison would make an awesome Disney movie, but maybe that’s just the fact that I’ve just watched Frozen talking. It’s light, funny, bantery, has great ships, short, and full of awesome female characters.
Though the focus isn’t on the world building, I LOVE the world in Poison. One of the common complaints in fantasy worlds is women being treated like second class citizens. So many fantasy worlds are medieval in their gender roles, and it gets old. The female characters in Poison are empowered. The society actually runs the royal inheritance through the female line. So often, it’s only the heroine who’s a badass (which Kyra is), but basically all of the women are awesome in their own right, and none of them are pushovers.
Kyra charmed me immediately with her snarky judgmentalness and unfriendliness. Basically, she is my soul sister and a lot of people probably won’t like her, which seems to happen with the characters who I most identify with. Anyway, she’s a potioner and a criminal, having fled town after dumping her hot fiancee and trying to kill her best friend, the princess. You know, as one does. I knew for sure that I loved her on page three when she thinks this, as she’s climbing a building to steal some things:
"What she wouldn’t give for a sturdy length of rope to climb. She cursed quietly. What was she doing wishing for rope? If she was going to wish for something, it should be something really important.
Warm from the oven, all crispy, crackly crust and oozing juicy berries."
I LIKE THE WAY THIS GIRL THINKS. Also I like that she’s not an innocent little darling and that she has walls up. I like that she really did try to assassinate her best friend (for the good of the country). She is hard-hearted. She even hates animals, like the little pig who is going to help her find her best friend again to successfully assassinate her this time. That is comedic gold. Though I don’t actually find pigs adorable, watching Kyra open up to Rosie, the pig, and to Fred is heart-touchingly adorable.
Oh yeah, Fred. I KNOW you didn’t think I would review a book without talking about the ship, right? THAT’S WHAT I DO. IT’S WHAT I LIVE FOR. Fred and Kyra are the adorbs and entirely non-instalovey. In fact, everything about them is made of banter. The whole book is very showing not telling. Most of the characterization is done through dialog, which is tricky to get right, but they were all so real and wonderful. I can’t speak to some of the relationships, because they’re spoilery, but I really love the dynamics of all of Kyra’s various relationships: romantic, friendly and family. Feelings, guys. I have them.
The Final Verdict:
Do you like adorable things? Do you like banter? Do you like ships? If you answered yes to all of these things, time to down some Poison. This was the perfect fluffy, fantasy read for me, and just what I needed as I’m coming out of a streak of non-fantastic reading.