I absolutely adored Cinderella is Dead last year, so I’ve been excited about This Poison Heart since I first heard about it. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be, this was definitely one of my most anticipated books. I was actually debating buying the Fairyloot special edition, but I didn’t have the money. So I guess I’ll be grabbing a normal paperback edition at some point.
Where I usually try to keep my reviews spoiler-free – this one will have some spoilers. There’s something I want to talk about, so be warned. I was lucky enough to receive this as an e-ARC through Netgalley.
This Poison Heart is being promoted as a sapphic retelling of The Secret Garden. To me, it didn’t really scream The Secret Garden apart from the whole walled garden and family secrets. Briseis has power over plants, a power that she’s tried to keep hidden. One day her family gets a call saying that she has inherited a home from her birth mother’s family. As they move into the house, she discovers; hidden alters, a lineage of witches and a garden filled with poisons. Briseis doesn’t know what to do, but her ancestors won’t leave her alone until she accepts her fate.
I fell in love with this book from the first page. I was grabbed by the story and the characters. I was interested in Briseis’s magic, and though I was surprised by the ties to Greek mythology, it fascinated me. It wasn’t what I expected, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wasn’t a huge fan of the way it was written and handled, but I am curious about how all these Greek myths have blended with our time now. I also liked getting the chance to read more on Medea and Hecate. Mythical women that I don’t tend to see so much on. The way these myths have been blended with family history and plants was really well done. Kalynn Bayron is an expert when it comes to clever retellings.
As clever as the story is, and as much as I loved this book for the first 70%… I didn’t like it so much after that. I found the whole story kind of ridiculous and predictable in places. Plus, I didn’t really like the romance. It was fine to start with. Briseis and Marie did seem a little bit insta-romance for me, but Marie seemed sweet if kind of odd. And I loved Briseis’s clearly crushing behaviour. Sadly, there were then there were other issues too. That issue being that Marie is immortal and a few hundred years old. Whereas Briseis is only 17. Now, as a teenager myself, that wasn’t something that bothered me. And since this book is for teens, that might not be a problem for most readers. But I don’t know as an adult. It’s kinda gross that someone who, whether stuck in a teenager’s body or not, is technically still an adult, and they’re getting with an actual teenager. Yeah, I’m not really a fan. But sadly, that was only the beginning of my issues.
This book went from being one I adored to one that I thought was kind of ridiculous and rolled my eyes at. The change happened pretty quickly. Which is a complete disappointment. I was so excited for this book, and I’m unsure as to whether I’ll pick up book 2 or not since the end really didn’t do much for me.
But the worldbuilding hooked me so much. I want to know more about these mythical families. I wanna see what’s happened to the other gods and their descendants. I also loved the queer rep. Not only is Briseis bi or pan – not sure which -but her adopted parents are an adorable lesbian couple. There were also brief mentions of other queer characters, and I really loved that. Certain aspects of this book were completely perfect, and it was so easy to read.
Kalynn Bayron really does write so well.
But something about it just didn’t work for me as much as I’d wanted it to.
Title: This Poison Heart
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Age Range: YA
Release Date: 29/06/21