Tag Archives: suspense

Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Kelsey Sutton’s Gardenia didn’t really grab me at first glance, but as soon as I read an excerpt, I was hooked.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and I think you might, too.  I will admit that the premise did sound like a few other books I’ve seen before, but this story had some charm that I thought the others lacked.  I gave this YA suspense four stars.

Gardenia is publishing Tuesday, February 28, 2017.


Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely. 

My Thoughts

What an engrossing suspense read!  There are so many possible suspects and so many red herrings that I found it impossible to even take a good guess at the killer’s identity.  To be fair, I’m not sure the clues are there until the big reveal, which can be a pet peeve of mine, but I didn’t mind in this case.  What was even more surprising was how satisfying the narrator’s development is in the midst of the mystery.  I love the fact that she makes a tough decision about facing her short future, and it is really heartwarming (something I can’t often say about a book in this genre).  It definitely made the ending more rewarding.  I also really like how the narrator is a believable character. She is a blend of selfish and self-sacrificing that really allowed me to feel she was genuine, and it was easy to be sympathetic to her situation.   I did find it hard to keep all the male characters straight – a couple had names that started with “M,” and that made it more difficult.  It wasn’t a perfect read, but I thought it was a really good one.  There is just enough creepiness to really draw my high school students in, and enough depth to keep them reading.  I know my mystery and suspense readers will find it as hard to put down as I did, so this is definitely going on my classroom library wish list.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Three Truths and a Lie

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Three Truths and a Lie

This suspense thriller reads quickly and has a compelling mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None if it was influenced by a teen slasher movie.   It did feel contrived.  The author incorporated some provocative sexual situations that some YA readers (and their moms) won’t be prepared for.  Also, I love a twisty tale as much as anyone, but the deception needs to be for other characters in the story, not the audience.  This felt like it was all about tricking me as a reader.  I did give it a three star rating based on the fact that I read it in one tense sitting.

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Goodreads Summary

A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.

My Thoughts

While the title makes it clear deception is at play, few readers will unravel this one until the end.  That is partly because of the twists and partly because there aren’t enough clues to allow readers to reach the real conclusion on their own.  That means the ending comes a bit out of left field, which will leave some readers feeling played.  Without giving too much away, I can say the narrator is easy to connect with, and the story follows a basic “stupid folks are going to die in the woods” format.  Like I said before, it is entertaining.  I did have some problems with the sex scenes in the book.  They aren’t graphic but they left me feeling uncomfortable because it seemed love was the last thing fueling them – that is my general way of deciding if sensuality is appropriate in YA books, and this one fails the test.  The ending put another spin on all the relationships, and I’m still working through that.   Overall, I was engaged by the mystery, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I felt the whole purpose of the book was to trick me.  While this is marketed as YA, the sexual situations make this book more appropriate for the 17+ crowd, but the contrived storyline will be a turn off to most discerning readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Killer in Me

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The Killer in Me

The Killer in Me is an intense and fast paced read with a pitch perfect creepy atmosphere.  It will leave you uncertain and unsettled in a wonderful way.  I couldn’t put it down, and I think other readers will find it just as absorbing. Fans of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers and Lisa McMann’s Wake series will be interested, but I think it holds a wider appeal that transcends gender and age.  I gave it five stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

My Thoughts

I think the most compelling element is the fact that you really never have a solid grasp of whether Nina is a reliable narrator.  Is she really experiencing something or has she created a story in her sleep deprived mind?  She is balanced nicely by Warren, a character who comes across as solid and trustworthy.  I liked how the author manages to build some history between them  because it adds so much validity to the relationship.  As much as I liked that aspect of the book, the central conflict between Nina and the Thief is the real reason to read this book.  The author masterfully puts readers through their paces.  I found myself relaxing only to feel the tension creeping back in time after time.  There really isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book, and I can’t wait to add it to my high school classroom library.   Situations make this most appropriate for mature high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thicker Than Water – this isn’t your run of the mill YA mystery

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Thicker Than Water – this isn’t your run of the mill YA mystery

This was a rather unusual mystery for a couple of reasons. First, the isolation and dislike the protagonist experiences is much more intense than I anticipated. There is no doubt that people really think Thomas killed his mother, and they are on a hairpin trigger to get him. It was kind of shocking, and it was palpable. Second, this isn’t the straightforward contemporary YA mystery I expected. The blurb leaves out a few surprises. Some readers won’t be bothered by the unexpected twists to the story, but other readers might feel like they had been a little mislead, especially if they expected a more run of the mill mystery.  I only gave it three stars because it had some issues, but I still found it a compelling read, and for $2.99, this book could definitely be an easy way to kill a few summer hours.

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Goodreads Summary

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

My Thoughts

I’m not going to ruin the surprise – okay, I’m going to ruin the surprise – there is a left field supernatural element in this book I never anticipated.  I wasn’t quite satisfied by the explanation I was given about that element because there were a few things I just couldn’t quite get to track.  Despite these misgivings, I would still recommend this book to many of my high school readers because, like I said, it is very compelling.  I read it in a few hours because I really did find the story engaging and I kind of liked that the rabbit hole just kept changing.  I liked both of the main characters, and I thought they were almost as surprising as the plot.  Charlotte was an interesting mix of old fashioned and modern, and she might have been a little too naive for my comfort (seriously, leave the maybe-murderer alone, Charlotte) but she held her own in the end.  The plot moves quickly and efficiently towards a resolution, but it does give readers time to get some character depth and some relationship development.  I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Stan and Thomas because it felt so real – two guys just living together in that silent “man” way.  It was cute and funny and honest.  I did pinpoint the perp long before the book was over, but there was enough of a red-herring that I began to second guess myself.   Overall, I enjoyed this book even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected and open minded YA mystery readers probably will as well.  I think there are clarity issues around the supernatural element, but I could roll with it.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

How to Disappear 

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How to Disappear 

With echoes  of Gone Girl and a fast-paced, threat-filled storyline, this twisty mystery will hold a lot of appeal for YA fans of suspense thrillers. It has its flaws, but I enjoyed.

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Goodreads Summary

This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything…until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.

My Thoughts 

It took a while for me to hit the groove with this book simply because it took a while for me to really puzzle out what was going on.  That wasn’t a bad thing. It was a really intriguing thing.  Nicolette saw something she shouldn’t have, and this time her stepdad (even with his crime boss connections) can’t help her.  On the run, but longing for the life she left behind, Nicolette struggles to keep herself hidden from the powerful men who want her silenced.  Jack has tried to forget the legacy of crime and violence connected to his name, but when the one thing he cares about most is threatened, he is willing to use every advantage he was born with to get the girl he’s been sent to kill.  This is a tense game of hide and seek, and the author uses both the dual narrative perspective and the dramatic irony it creates to keep readers holding their breath until the last page.  The really impressive thing about this book for me is how Nic and Jack both manage to come across as crafty and street smart while still reading like teens.  Sure, they both know that getting involved with the other is a horrible idea, but just like real and impulsive teens, they find the siren song of attraction is hard to resist.  I liked the fact that they made mistakes and were thwarted by stupid turns of fate because it added an authenticity to their characters and the plot which kept me in suspended disbelief just long enough to really get swept away by this story, a story that I would have scoffed at as completely unrealistic if I hadn’t been so invested in the outcome.  I think it might be hard for some readers to buy into two teens navigating this situation, but I also think most YA readers who pick it up will have a hard time putting it down simply for its tense blend of underworld mystery and dangerous attraction.   I will say that I wasn’t able to guess this ending at all, despite my excellent prediction skills, and it has a twist that I wasn’t really sold on, but I think it will delight most readers.  I don’t think this is a perfect book, but I did find it compelling and extremely entertaining.  I will definitely recommend it to my high school readers, especially those with a penchant for mystery and a yen for a darker kind of romance.  This one is going on my classroom library wish list and my high school librarian recommendation list.  Language and situations, specifically violence and some sensuality, make this most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


The Cresswell Plot – And you thought your family was horrifying!

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The Cresswell Plot – And you thought your family was horrifying!

So, there are books about cults, and then there is this – The Cresswell Plot.  Homegrown religion courtesy of a clearly unbalanced and abusive father.  It is weird and disturbing in ways you probably can’t imagine. I gave it four stars on entertainment value, but many critics thought three stars were generous.  I think it’s about expectations – if you are reading this for some meaningful thoughts about . . . Well . . . anything, you are going to be disappointed.  However, if you just want to rubberneck some strange – this is your book.

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Goodreads Summary

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

My Thoughts

I’m going to be straight – this book is full of crazy.  I couldn’t tell who was buying into the religious indoctrination and who was just playing along and biding their time.  That made it really hard to predict what was going to happen next.  I read this in horrified fascination just like I would read about any extreme, real life horror story, and I think most readers will find themselves just as entranced.   It was a bit of a guilty pleasure because the book focuses on giving readers the most sensationalized picture of religious extremism spurred by mental illness possible.  There are no answers or even real nods to the fact that the father clearly has had a break with reality, though the fear that permeates a house ruled by an unstable and unpredictable mind rings true.  What it boils down to is that the book plays on people’s fears and expectations, but does little to advance their understanding or compassion towards those who suffer from mental illness.  Personally, I think that is okay, but if you are looking for more depth or message, it just isn’t here.  It is strange and engaging and suspenseful, and most readers will be pretty fascinated by Castley’s living Hell.  I’m adding it to my high school classroom library wish list, and I will recommend it to fans of psychological horror.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes is back with The Long Game

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Jennifer Lynn Barnes is back with The Long Game

I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Her protagonists are smart and sassy and every one of them ends up in perilous situations that equal a lot of action and adventure.  My favorite series is The Squad, in which a devout goth girl is forced to join the cheer squad in order to thwart evil.  It is hilarious.  I am a huge fan of her The Naturals series, kind of a Criminal Minds for the YA crowd.  Her latest offering is the follow up to The Fixer, a sort of YA Scandal meets Veronica Mars.  Like I said, her gals are interesting.  All this is to say that if you need something to keep you busy until Tuesday, June 7th, when The Long Game publishes, you have plenty of witty and engaging books to keep you occupied.

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Goodreads Summary

Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family.

But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

Perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Ally Carter, the second book in this thrilling series will leave readers breathless.

My Thoughts

Wow.  Just . . . wow.  The follow up to Jennifer Barnes’ The Fixer packed more action, conspiracy and twists into its pages than I could have anticipated.  The stakes get a lot higher this time, and, while it sends the story into a realm closer to fantasy than reality, it was quite entertaining.  Seriously.  All I could think about today was getting back home to finish this book.  Characters and relationships evolved nicely, and sometimes surprisingly.  The friendships that Tess made in the first book extend naturally, as do her relationships with her mother and grandfather.  I particularly enjoy that this book puts forward the idea of the powerful protecting the powerless.  I think it adds a nice depth and a gentle commentary on bullying that readers will take to heart.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, and I can’t wait to add this to my high school classroom library.  This book is a sequel, so you really have to read The Fixer first, and If you find this world as intriguing as I did, you will definitely want to get your hands on The Long Game.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The May Queen Murders

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The May Queen Murders

Yes, The May Queen Murders is just as creepy as the cover promises.  It is the rural legend that nightmares are made of, and it may give you nightmares.  I thoroughly enjoyed the out of place and time feel, which added a lot to the atmosphere and a general sense of unease.  If you like your country folk weird and your precautionary tales horrifying, this is your book.

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Goodreads Summary

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them

My Thoughts

This is an atmospheric read, full of country superstitions, old wives tales, and long held secrets. It is centered around the legend of a murderer who inhabits the forest outside a small, isolated Missouri community.  The setting is what is going to make or break this book for most readers.  It is one that is a bit hard to place in time.  The community is so out of synch with the modern world – they seem to be stuck in an era closer to early American settlers, wearing long dresses and relying on teas and tinctures over modern medicines, but it is clear that the world around them is probably closer to our modern times.  This isolation and separation is key to the plot, the characters, and the atmosphere of gently creeping horror.  Ivy, the narrative voice in this story will give many readers that same feeling of being out of time while still being part of our time.  Her experience of watching close relationships unravel when faced with the diverging paths inherent in growing up is a universal theme that many YA readers will connect with, as are the feelings that come with being a social outsider in the larger picture of the world.  However, there is just something so alien and maybe exotic about her and her world that some readers will embrace it, and others will struggle to connect with.

The plot is paced to develop suspense and that sense of wrongness that slowly builds until it breaks wide open and unleashes a malevolent chaos.  It felt like I was watching an approaching storm cloud, and when the fury hit, I was still a bit unprepared.  Despite my excellent skills of prediction, the twists and turns this book took left me feeling slammed by the climax.  This went from being a tense and rather slow simmering mystery to a full on teen horror flick in a heartbeat.  There were a lot of players on the stage, and it took a bit of hustle to get them all in place for a resolution.  I think it could have been a littlle less chaotic, but that confusion did mirror the confusion the poor protagonist certainly must have been experiencing.  I ended up having to re-read parts to make sure I had it all straight.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me, which had the same creepy and time lost feel.  I personally enjoyed the book, but I acknowledge that other readers will find it too strange to stick with.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein is a twisty and calculating suspense read for the New Adult set

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The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein is a twisty and calculating suspense read for the New Adult set

Step one of enjoying this book is understanding that it is nothing like the author’s first book, Ghostboy, Chameleon and the Duke of Graffitti.  That was an awesome, heartwarming and emotional read, and I highly recommend it. The Masterpiecers, though,  is more of a Gillian Flynn meets Orange Is The New Black tale.  It is a much darker work and it feels cold and calculating from page one.  I should have expected that, except I’m pretty sure I just saw the author’s name and dove in.  I’m almost entirely certain that I didn’t even read the premise or that I read it and ignored it.  The fault is my own, so it is entirely possible that you will read this book and scoff at my three star assessment.

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Goodreads Summary

Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.
Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.

My Thoughts

I wanted to love this book, and I think there will be a lot of people who will, but I’m not going to be one of them.   The atmosphere is oppressive, and there is a real sense of impending doom throughout the story.  The twin sisters who narrate the book are hard to pin down.  Their dual narrative creates most of the suspense because it is clear that one or both of them has to be unreliable, but they are both characters you want to believe.  Even as the truth slowly comes to light, it is difficult to decide who is lying, deluded, or naïve.  I did enjoy the mystery this dynamic created, but it colored my perceptions of the other elements in the book.  I was so cautious with the main characters that I found it hard to dredge up much sympathy for them.  I found myself feeling cynical about the relationships developed and even in the coincidences of the plot line.  I still found the story compelling and entertaining, but it didn’t garner the emotional connections I made in the author’s first book.  Language, situations, and character ages make this more of a New Adult than a YA.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison – Some mysteries might be better unsolved

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A Fierce and Subtle Poison – Some mysteries might be better unsolved

This sounded so close to one of my favorite short stories, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, that I couldn’t resist.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Lush prose, exotic Carribean culture  and ghosts tangle with unhinged science and poisoned kisses for a dark, magical atmosphere, and a mystery that you might not want to solve.  Throw in some seriously complex complications for a seemingly doomed love story, and you have a book that is hard to put down.

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Goodreads Summary

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

My Thoughts

My only complaint was Lucas, the narrator.  He tried not to be the trust fund jerk his father wanted him to be, but he still came across as over-privileged, cocky, and too much of a player for my taste.  His latest hook-up dies and he seems concerned, but he still keeps romancing girls in the midst of the mess?  I found it hard to take.  I do understand some of the decisions that shaped his character – they were necessary to develop the rather intriguing and light commentary on modern day colonialism.  I just didn’t like those parts of him.  Most readers will forgive him by the end and forget that such an intrinsic change is a little hard to really believe. Overall, this is an engaging mystery and a beautifully written book.  It is a little more magical realism than Hawthorne’s dark romanticism, but it didn’t have that over the top weird or the hard to follow plot twists that I associate with that style.  I think it has an audience for high school readers and adult readers of YA as well.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.