21 November 2011

Review: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Jessamine Luxton rarely leaves her home in Hulne Abbey, the now-unsanctified ruins of an ancient Catholic monastery. As the sole caretaker of her father, the teen spends her days cooking, sewing, and working the family gardens. Thomas--healer, herbalist, apothecary, or witch, depending on whom you ask--tends the sick in their eighteenth-century northern English village. When Thomas allows an orphaned boy, known only as Weed, to live with them and help with the medicinal plants, father and daughter have little idea of just whom they've welcomed into their home.

The Poison Diaries, the first in a trilogy by Maryrose Wood and the duchess of Northumberland, is a compelling young adult tale of good and evil. Infused with a Gothic atmosphere, including elements of arcane knowledge, awaking passions, and mysterious powers, the story is, however, much more complex than a standard morality play.

Weed's presence serves as a force of awakening and change in the Luxtons' lives. Thomas is continually stymied in his efforts to discover the source of the boy's deep knowledge of gardening and the healing powers of plants. His frustrations grow as he notices his daughter's affection for Weed and senses the teens' increasing trust in each other. And herein lies the dynamics of the story.

The reader is quickly drawn into the Luxtons' world, wondering if Weed is friend or foe, if Thomas is sane or crazy, and if Jessamine is naive or wise. Wood reveals clues slowly, expertly building the tension and mystery. Be prepared to read The Poison Diaries in one sitting because it will be near impossible to put the novel aside.

Although the book doesn't end in a cliff-hanger, the last pages will have you scrambling for the second in the trilogy. The Poison Diaries is an exciting Gothic tale that should have wide appeal. Young adult book clubs will find plenty to talk about, such as father-daughter relationships, young love, trust, honesty, and the quest for knowledge.

Published by HarperCollins / Balzer & Bray (Harperteen), 2010
ISBN-13: 9780061802362
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 11/21/11, 7:46 AM  

What a lonely life Jessamine must have - even before Weed appears it seems sad.

Good to see more books that look at father-daughter relationships.

Col (Col Reads) 11/21/11, 8:38 AM  

This one sounds like a winner. I love complex family relationships.

Daryl 11/21/11, 8:58 AM  

Sounds good, I wonder if its appropriate for a friend's just turned 13 but going on 40 daughter

Beth Hoffman 11/21/11, 9:20 AM  

Love the sound of this book, and the video is fantastic!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Candace!

Sandy Nawrot 11/21/11, 9:37 AM  

This one sounds really intriguing. And a series, which is always good for a little obsessive compulsive reading.

Andi 11/21/11, 11:37 AM  

I read this one a good while back and did not have as good luck with it as you did. By the end, I really wanted to stab myself in the eyeballs. However, I was FASCINATED by the true story of the "poison garden" behind this book. I read about it for a while afterward. :)

bermudaonion 11/21/11, 12:23 PM  

I'm generally not drawn to books like this, but my sister loves them. Your review is fantastic!

Zibilee 11/21/11, 12:24 PM  

Oh, this sounds like such an excellent read! I love books that hook you in early on, and leave you hungering for the next installment, so this one sounds just about perfect for me. This is going on my list right away. It seems like I would have a great time with this one! Great review today!

Margot 11/21/11, 2:21 PM  

Well, this is not my normal genre at all, but your review and that spectacular video are compelling me to come closer. Eeeek!!

Peppermint Ph.D. 11/21/11, 5:46 PM  

This sounds intriguing...adding this one to my list :)

Michelle 11/23/11, 3:12 PM  

I like hearing this! I have both this book and the follow-up waiting in my bookshelf/nook.

Julie P. 11/27/11, 8:07 PM  

I don't usually read books like this one, but I think your review has piqued my interest.

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