28 September 2011

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .

Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.

When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .

Not too bad for a short book.  I seem to have this misplaced misconception about short books: that somehow, because they lack a significant page count, they aren't as good.

Like I said, misplaced.

The Poison Dairies is a little dynamo.  Small, but really packs a punch.  The emotional journeys of the characters—especially Weed—were heart wrenching.  It is always spine tingling to see the cruelties a person can render.

The main character, Jessamine, starts off interesting and likeable and woefully honest in her view of the world.  Towards the end, however, I thought she was weak and pitiful and annoying.  I became bitter towards her.

Weed, however, was awesome.  He really seemed to me to be a fleshed out and very interesting character—his affiliation for plants is different than "earth magic" in, say, a Tamora Pierce-style world because Weed isn't seen doing any particular magic other than speaking with plants.  He evolved as a character, starting off as a weak, seemingly witless fool.  At the end, he's strong and pitiful from love.

The atmosphere was the most potent aspect. I gladly entered Jessamine's world in a little corner of Northumberland, filled with friendly flowers and poisonous plants.

Besides being a romance, it is also a heroic tale with deep character arcs and internal struggles.  The ending had me glued—Weed's speech was sheer brilliance, if seriously misplaced.  Like I said, Jessamine got pathetic towards the end.

I received the sequel The Poison Diaries: Nightshade from NetGalley and I'm really glad I picked up this series.  Now I can't wait to start the next book.

Book Info:

  • pages – paperback, 288
  • published – May 2010
  • publisher – Balzer + Bray
  • genre – historical fiction/fantasy
  • received via – Borders
  • rating – 4/5
  • series – The Poison Diaries
    • The Poison Diaries
    • The Poison Diaries: Nightshade (coming 10/25)