The Poisons We Drink

The Poisons We Drink
Age Range
Release Date
May 07, 2024
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In a country divided between humans and witchers, Venus Stoneheart hustles as a brewer making illegal love potions to support her family.
Love potions is a dangerous business. Brewing has painful, debilitating side effects, and getting caught means death or a prison sentence. But what Venus is most afraid of is the dark, sentient magic within her.

Then an enemy's iron bullet kills her mother, Venus's life implodes. Keeping her reckless little sister Janus safe is now her responsibility. When the powerful Grand Witcher, the ruthless head of her coven, offers Venus the chance to punish her mother's killer, she has to pay a steep price for revenge. The cost? Brew poisonous potions to enslave D.C.'s most influential politicians.

As Venus crawls deeper into the corrupt underbelly of her city, the line between magic and power blurs, and it's hard to tell who to trust…Herself included.

The Poisons We Drink is a potent YA debut about a world where love potions are weaponized against hate and prejudice, sisterhood is unbreakable, and self-love is life and death.

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intriguing YA fantasy
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THE POISONS WE DRINK was in intriguing YA fantasy about prejudice and oppression. Venus is a Witcher who has been trained to brew potions related to love and all its complexities. The trouble with potion brewing is that this magic has a hefty recoil, which is quite painful and could result in her death. Venus is also hiding a part of her magic that manifests as another being inside of her. She communicates with it and works to suppress it, as it has the potential to be very dangerous.

Venus's mother is more of a boss than family, but she is very close with her sister Janus. As politics are getting trickier and more dangerous, Venus will find herself in the middle of it all, doing anything she can to protect her sister.

What I loved: This was an interesting premise with a compelling character. Venus has a lot on her shoulders between her mother's expectations, the parts of herself/her magic that she fears, and her worries about the growing cruelty towards Witchers that puts herself and notably her sister in mortal danger. She is just beginning to consider herself as someone with future paths, but destiny may have other ideas in mind. The weight of choice vs destiny is something she considers throughout the book, particularly as she ends up in unwanted situations, not of her own making.

Themes around these choices are thought-provoking, but the heaviest themes of the book are around prejudice, its cruelty, and the way politics is used to wield this hate as a weapon. This has clear correlates to current events and brings it home in a new way using this fantasy world for teens. Additionally, themes around family consider the people we choose and those who are chosen for us, with Venus's complicated relationship with her mother evolving as she considers herself and what she has been told as the story continues.

What left me wanting more: There were some small things that are probably personal preference-related. I found the magic system to be particularly confusing/complex, and I needed to reread many sections to feel like I could understand what was going on/what different things related to it meant. I am not totally sure I understand it now either, and it was important to the story. While I was caught up in the story in the beginning, I felt that the middle meandered a bit too much for me, and it felt a bit easy to get lost in the details.

Final verdict: THE POISONS WE DRINK is an overall intriguing YA fantasy that will work well for people who enjoy character-driven stories with complex magic.
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