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Dazzling contemporary YA fantasy brimming with botanical magic, mythic magic and Black Girl Magic
July 2021 Book of the Month
What a blooming brilliant concept - an adopted Brooklyn teenager with an uncanny gift for giving life to plants inherits an old mansion from her birth family and becomes embroiled in an ancient ancestral curse. The book’s botanical and mythic insights are endlessly fascinating and interwoven with green-fingered dexterity, and the plot is 100% page-turning as it conjures a fast-blossoming story that twists with the grip of snaking vines.
Bri’s inherited house, with its massive grounds and apothecary, is in quaint, curious, countrified Rhinebeck. On arrival, she follows a trail of clues left by her aunt Circe and discovers a deadly Poison Garden. Then she reads a letter from Circe declaring that “fate has a way of catching up to us. You must decide if you can continue this work, because you are the only one that can.” Turns out it’s no coincidence that Bri’s full name (Briseis) and those of her birth mom and aunt (Selene and Circe) are powerful women from Greek myth.
Alongside the uncoiling magical mystery, I adored the loving banter between Bri’s moms, and the intrigue of her friendship with local boy Karter. Then there’s super stunning, super rich Marie, a girl with mysteries of her own and a driver called Nyx - a name that might also set bells a-ringing.
This Poison Heart is contemporary YA fantasy at its finest and confirms Kalynn Bayron’s talent for coming up with killer concepts and spinning new gold from timeless old tales (I also adored Cinderella is Dead). What’s more, the epic ending leaves scope for a sequel - I truly hope that’s the case.
Ever since she can remember, Briseis has had power over plants. Flowers bloom in her footsteps and leaves turn to face her as though she were the sun. It's a power she and her adoptive mothers have spent her whole life trying to hide.
And then Briseis inherits an old house from her birth mother and suddenly finds herself with the space and privacy to test her powers for the first time. But as Briseis starts to bring the house's rambling garden back to life, she finds she has also inherited generations of secrets.
A hidden altar to a dark goddess, a lineage of witches stretching back to ancient times, and a hidden garden overgrown with the most deadly poisonous plants on earth. And Briseis's long-departed ancestors aren't going to let her rest until she accepts her place as the keeper of the terrible power that lies at the heart of the Poison Garden.
Cinderella Is Dead author Kalynn Bayron brings a message of proud inclusivity to this empowering fantasy about a young woman finding the strength to challenge everything she has been told is true.
Praise for Cinderella is Dead;
A wholly original and captivating story where girls finally decide for themselves who lives happily ever after - Brigid Kemmerer
Challenges patriarchy with kick-butt heroines and a counter-story that will forever change how readers perceive fairy tales - Booklist starred review
Ambitious, replacing the happily-ever-after with a tragic legacy and a defiant, feminist tone - Publisher's Weekly Online
|Publication date:||29th June 2021|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
|Genres:||Fantasy / Magical|
|Recommendations:||Books of the Month, Star Books|
|Collections:||Diverse Voices - 80 Children's Books that Celebrate Difference,|
Kalynn Bayron is a debut author and a classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she's not writing, you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, going to the theatre, watching scary movies and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her family.More About Kalynn Bayron