The Kinder Poison

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The Kinder Poison
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
13+
Release Date
June 16, 2020
ISBN
9781984835215
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Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown. Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry. All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities. With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

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5 reviews
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
4.7(3)
Characters
 
5.0(3)
Writing Style
 
4.7(3)
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N/A(0)
The Kinder Poison
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Zahru is low in status because of her magic. She is a “whisperer” to animals, which isn’t highly prized. Her friend, Hen, is on a path to glory with her ability so as a last hurrah they devise a plan to allow Zahru to sneak into the palace and enjoy the festivities. The Mestrah has declared his potential heirs must resume the deadly race from past eras and through a sacrifice at the end be proclaimed the winner.
During the setup of the first couple of chapters, I struggled with the borderline info dump in setting up the plot and world. However, as soon as Zahru accidentally is mistaken for a contender and then a misunderstanding gets her proclaimed the sacrifice the pace never stops and it was hard to put down.

I really appreciated that as soon as Zahru finds herself in trouble she is quick telling the truth. I get tired of books where the character stubbornly holds on to scraps of information that would easily resolve the plot. It felt more believable for someone not trained in subterfuge that you would just tell what you know and expect that to fix everything. It was believable that she was shocked when political machinations outside of her experience mean that it isn’t enough that she told the truth.

I absolutely loved the scenes with Prince Jet and Zahru. She has a forgiving heart and he tries to have a high moral code and to make up for past mistakes. His relationship with his siblings is complex. I loved that the plot allowed Zahru time with each sibling to delve into their motivations and traumas and to understand why they hope to claim the throne (or not in Jet’s case). Her time with each contender allows for character development and makes them fully fleshed out and not just a backdrop for her story. I also like that the supporting characters such as Maia are explored and that their effect on the plot is organic and integral in how the plot unfolds and how the second book is set up.

This story is about Zahru’s destiny and the part she plays in helping or thwarting the siblings in their race to win the throne. However, there are hints of larger conflicts and war with outside nations brewing and how each heir would approach the coming conflict. Zahru is learning that those in charge might be manipulating things and claiming that the gods willed it, which is heading toward a crisis of deep-rooted beliefs for her. There are also themes around the treatment of nonmagical people and how their culture has deep-seated inequity that is fueling the upcoming conflict where non-magical countries with a grudge are developing technology that can render magic useless in a fight.

The title and cover were immediate eye-catchers for me in adding this book to my TBR. When we got to the part in the book where we understand the reason for the cover image it was so satisfying and immediately took this story to another level. Kasta is such an interesting character because he is so easy to hate until he is not. It was unexpected that his life mirrored Zahru in enough ways that she can empathize with him. There were so many times he could have died and I wondered why they didn’t let him. Then the epilogue made him even more interesting and I can’t wait to see if there is redemption or whether he will go further into becoming an unredeemable villain.

Final Verdict: The book is fast-paced with a well-imagined world and in-depth character building. This first book has a satisfying conclusion to the events of the race as well as setting up the sequel to add more to the world in which Zahru lives.
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The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae - Book Review
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
From start to finish I absolutely adored this story. The opening scene was so much fun to read while Zahru and Hen conned their way onto the boat so Zahru could go to the castle and see the celebration. It was just supposed to be one night of fun, what could go wrong? Immediately, Zahru isn't that lucky and the identity she used to get on the boat, just got her on the wrong one. She is now a contender in order to be one of the escorts for the heirs. Even how Zahru ends up being chosen is seriously amazing. I don't want to go into too many details because you need to experience the book for yourself. But I absolutely loved the adventure that this book to me on. It was intense, funny, and overall enjoyable. I found myself continually reading and wanting to know more. This book was nearly impossible to put down, that I put all of my other reads assigned and fully concentrated on this one. The pacing was fantastic and even the more serious scenes where the characters are becoming more developed were never dull. I enjoyed learning about each heir and each part of the quest was important to how this story progressed. And then the ending. It was so good and I cannot wait for the next book. It definitely took a turn that I was not expecting and I'm curious on how it will all play out.

While this book had a solid story and plot line, it was really the characters that made it shine. Zahru was phenomenal. I absolutely adored her character and the interactions with each heir. Her decisions always seemed realistic and very easy to connect with her character. There were so many instances that I chuckled because of her. Each heir was great in their own way. Sakira was not what I was expecting at all and I'm glad that she was added into this story. It wouldn't have been complete without her. Jet, of course, was exactly what you would expect him to be. But what made him stand out was that he wasn't always the good guy. I really liked the fact that he wasn't the "hero" but he realizes that. This fact is what makes him more likeable and realistic. And then there is Kasta. Oh, the conflicting feelings he makes you feel... which is exactly what he is suppose to make you feel. I was overly impressed with his character and how you can't decide whether or not you want to like him or want him to really turn into the villain? And then as I'm reading it, I realized how perfect all three of the heirs would be if they ruled together. UGH. These characters are so well written.

Overall, The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae is a book you need to pick up if you like fantasy. I absolutely loved this book and it might be one of my favorites of the year. As the story progressed, I couldn't put the book down. I loved the idea of the Crossing and how Mae developed the plot and the characters. Even though I completely loved this story, it was the characters that made me obsessed. Zahru and her supporting cast is really what glued this whole book together and I cannot wait for the next book to come out. If you love fantasy, races, and royal sibling fights with a fun and witty dialogue - please do yourself a favor and pick up this book!
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lush and compelling YA fantasy
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
THE KINDER POISON is a compelling and mind-blowing YA fantasy. Zahru lives in a kingdom of magic, but she inherited her magic from her father and is a Whisperer, someone who can talk to animals. While this might sound cool, it's considered lowly as there is not much you can actually do with such an ability. Animals aren't easy to reason with, and it won't start fires or win wars. She is mostly content with her lot in life, but she does wish she could be an Adventurer and see the world.

The god-king, the Mestrah, is dying and has invoked a deadly competition called The Crossing to choose which of his three children shall ascend to the throne. This race has them travel across the desert with checkpoints until they arrive at the final cave, where they shall sacrifice a human to gain power and be crowned as the champion and new Mestrah. To get a glimpse of all the finery and to eat the fantastic food there, Zahru and her friend Han have devised a plan to get Zahru a seat in the spectators section (Han already has a seat due to her magic) of where the three contestants will choose the two gifted individuals who will help them in the race.

However, the name they chose to put of Zahru's mother sets her on a course that she never would have chosen with potentially deadly consequences.

What I loved: The world and character building are really lush and immersive. The magic and mythology of this world are really unique and described enough to feel like the reader is transported there without knowledge dumps. The characters are beyond fantastic- they are three-dimensional and complex. They are all really engaging in different ways, including the three royals who are competing and those they choose as their helpers along the way. I love the way their backstories were all woven into the book and they came alive from the pages. Zahru's father, Fara, is another character that I grew to love, even though he hardly appears himself, through the stories that Zahru reveals about him.

The book has some really interesting themes about what makes a good leader, the value of human life, and the power of kindness. When we got to the part from where the title comes, it was incredible and so much begins to fit into place. The plot is all perfectly paced, and I love that we see the end of the race within the book- though the ending does have me eagerly awaiting the next installment (that ending is mind-blowing!). This is a book that gives all the feels, and I was very much there for it.

Final verdict: Highly compelling, unique, and lush, THE KINDER POISON is a delicious read for anyone who appreciates YA fantasy. Highly recommend for fans of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE RED QUEEN, and AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. This book is not to be missed!
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