A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry


Summary from Goodreads:

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 a-fierce-and-subtle-poisonplants 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.


I received this as a gift and so it is not the typical book that I read, but I liked it in a weird way.  I am not a huge fan of magical realism, but it does work well in this story as it is mixed up in the island lore that Lucas has heard all of his life living on Puerto Rico.

Lucas is a likable character, that you feel sorry for at times.  His father drags him to the island every summer, and every summer he is pretty much left by himself at the hotel that his father owns.  He has friends on the island, but he is still somewhat considered an outsider and not to be trusted.  The police also don’t like him, and seem to have it out for him because he is the son of a rich developer.  The relationship that he develops with Isabel is a mixture of affection, longing and wanting to rescue her. His desire to help her is what almost destroys him in the end.

Isabel is a difficult character to like or sympathize with.  You almost want to believe that she is not as poisonous as she makes herself out to be, and that it is all just stories and myths that have grown up around her and her father.  But eventually you have to believe it as their is no other explanation.  She keeps telling Lucas to stay away, but he doesn’t listen.  Isabel in the end tries to be helpful and right the wrongs that her father committed, but it doesn’t end well for anyone.

Isabel’s father, Dr. Ford, is truly despicable, even though I know he does what he does because he loves his daughter, I can’t accept him as a sympathetic character either when he has ruined so many lives including his own and his daughter’s.

All in all a riveting tale that mixed folklore, a little bit a magic with a contemporary love story all set in a tropical paradise.




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.