Friday, July 22, 2016

A fierce and subtle poison by Samantha Mabry

Lucas Knight spends his summers in Puerto Rico with his hotelier father, living a charmed life thanks to his money and his good looks.  Over the years he has formed friendships with the local boys, and more recently with the local girls.  He knows he is entitled and spoilt, but it is also the only life he knows.  He has been accepted by the locals to a certain degree, but he will always be an outsider to them.   

Like the local boys Lucas has grown up hearing the stories about the house at the end of Calle Sol - the stories about the scientist who neglected his wife and kept her trapped in the house, with a myriad of options to how the story ended.  Lucas had his own stories growing up, but like the local boys he has thrown his wishes over the wall for the witch inside.  

Lucas is about to make a startling discovery though - there really is someone living inside the walls of the house at the end of Calle Sol and she has been keeping secrets.  Lucas would never have made the discovery if not for the missing girls, and as more girls go missing Lucas finds himself at the centre of a mystery that could destroy his life.  Everyone in town knows about the witch who lives in the house, but Lucas is the first to see her - and if he is not careful she will destroy him.

A fierce and subtle poison is one of those books that defies you to write a good review - because some of the best parts of the book come about because you discover them as a twist or plot point, not the sort of things you want to put in a review!  I have recently been reading a lot of books that I would have to label as odd or unusual, unique reads that almost defy you to categorise them and A fierce and subtle poison is one of those books.  The island of Puerto Rico is the perfect location for this story, it breathes life into the mythology of the story and the simple and idealistic lives of the local community provide a balance to the excess and luxury of Lucas's life.  

I have the strong feeling this will be a polarising book - there are people who are going to love it and people who are going to hate it.  I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but by the time I was about a third of the way through and still reading I figured that I was going to finish it after all - which I did in a final sprint over the last 100 pages or so.  

One of the aspects that will annoy some is that Lucas and his friends are almost caricatures of themselves, as though the author has been heavy handed in defining the contrasts between the "white" entitled folk and the locals - but that helps add character to the story and the world they live in.  The spattering of Spanish throughout the book also adds to the charm and realism of the story.  All I can say is give the story a real try, at least the first two sections anyway as that is where the story really takes off.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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