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A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry grabbed me immediately with it’s Puerto Rico setting and magic based on poison. That seemed like a combination that couldn’t miss! I’m not hooked after the first chapter, but I imagine a lot of readers will enjoy this one.

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Fierce and Subtle Poison from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry {Just Hatched}

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Published by Algonquin on Apr. 12th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 288 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
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In this stunning debut, legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the senoras 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.

2.5 Stars

How is the writing style?

The story is first person past tense from Lucas’ perspective. I found his narration to be a bit choppy and disconnected; clearly a purposeful style, but didn’t appeal to me all that much. The initial story of the green-skinned girl was intriguing, but not written in a way that maintains my interest through typical teenage stuff ;-).

General tone of the beginning

We get the legend of the cursed house with the green-skinned girl right away and then jump into Lucas’ every day life in Puerto Rico. He’s the teenage son of a hotel developer, so there is a lot of drinking, girls, and living in a hotel with room service. He does get attacked by a supernatural being right away though, so that’s a plus, ha.

Setting, genre, etc?

YA fantasy, though possibly magical realism? I’m not sure how strong the fantasy elements will end up. Present day Puerto Rico, but Lucas is a white mainlander so he is seeing everything from an outsider perspective, which definitely changes the reading experience.


  1. My current read, leave me alone! (~5 stars)
  2. Reading in the near future *hides from TBR pile glare* (~4 stars)
  3. Hoping to get back to eventually (~3 stars)
  4. Probably not getting back to but someone else will like it (~2 stars)
  5. Don’t really want to push this copy on anyone else (~1 star)

I’m giving A Fierce and Subtle Poison 2.5 stars. I could see getting back to it if trusted readers really love it, but it hasn’t grabbed me thus far. I’m so picky when it comes to male main characters, so that’s not the books fault. I do wish that the story wasn’t from an outsider perspective though so that I could really immerse myself in Puerto Rican culture and myths.

See for yourself:

Have you read this one yet? Are you inclined to check it out?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -Anya

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.

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