DNF Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

25810644A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: April 12th 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres &  Themes: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Diversity, Romance

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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.


The presence of diversity in books is very important. However, that element alone cannot guarantee our satisfaction, i.e, I’m a die-hard fan of lgbt books, but by no means does that mean that every lgbt book I will come across will be a winner for me. By.no.means. And, as you know, reading time is non-refundable.

This book is set in Puerto Rico. Lucas grew up with strange tales about the house at the end of street, where the scientist and his sequestered wife live. There are many versions of the story. Some say the wife died, killed herself or just left. In every version, however, the wife leaves behind something important: a cursed girl.

I was eager, so, so eager to start my reading of this book. I had a feeling it would read like a fairytale and that it would be both enchanting and creepy. While the story does begin with the curious tale of the scientist and his wife, the narrator – aka Lucas – quickly grows uninterested in the events surrounding the house at the end of the street and prefers to focus on banal – to the reader – subjects of his everyday life: girls, his friends, partying, drinking, kissing, etc.

I’m just going to say it and get it over with: Lucas is boring. There, I said it. He’s completely unsure of what he wants to do with his life, which is fine, really, even I have no idea what the best path for me would be. But at least I have interests. Lucas doesn’t. Wait, forgive my lying to you, he does have a particular obsession with girls. Hey, he’s a teenager full of hormones, so I’m not going to hold it against him, but for someone who was ‘‘so in love’’ with his girlfriend Marisol, he sure didn’t show many signs of grief after her death. He not long after starts dating someone new, or rather, tries to – his date doesn’t go well.

I wish we had chapters narrated by the cursed girl. She’s the only character I cared to learn about, but we don’t know much about her either. How can a reader truly connect with the characters he’s reading about, if little information is provided about them? What do they like? What do they hate? What do they aspire to? What are their hidden skills?

I need to know.

Did not finish at 55%.

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11 thoughts on “DNF Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

  1. Aww I’m sorry you didn’t like it 😦

    I had a bad feeling about this book. Something about the synopsis reminded me of Wink Poppy Midnight. Although the tales behind the cursed girl sounded interesting. Such a shame it sucked. And that Lucas wasn’t really likeable.

    I hope your next read is better! Great review 🙂


  2. I love how honest your reviews are. I am still at that stage of struggling to read each book to the end no matter how painful but I need to start being honest about my books and DNF those I don’t connect with. Great review as always.


  3. Gosh, I’m glad you stuck with it up to 55% at least, before putting it down. I’ve heard generally mixed reviews for this one, although I was super interested in it at first. It seems like a large disconnect with the characters (I mean, Lucas does not sound particularly endearing to me) just takes away from the enjoyment.


  4. Pingback: Book Reviews | SVM & TB Stories

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