Review: ‘A Fierce and Subtle Poison’ by Samantha Mabry

I received this book for free from requested from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ‘A Fierce and Subtle Poison’ by Samantha MabryA Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Published by Algonquin Books on April 12th, 2016
Genres: Magical Realism, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: requested from publisher
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. A Fierce and Subtle Poison beautifully blends magical realism with a page-turning mystery and a dark,  starcrossed romance--all delivered in lush, urgent prose.

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book review


I was a little torn with this one which is why I’m rating it in the middle.. I liked it and disliked certain aspects. For one, it’s very dragging. Hardly anything happens until later on in the book. And it was enough for me to keep from DNFing which is saying something because I actually did enjoy her writing.


I also loved the setting because I’ve been to San Juan myself and can picture the streets as easily as it were in the book. The heat and the humidity felt very real. The descriptions of the trees and even the flowers, the feel of the sand beneath the characters’ toes. Yep it felt like I was transported back there and I loved it. I also liked the magical aspects of it, but i felt it was also so problematic at the same time. Problematic because I always have an issue with magical realism. Because my thoughts will twist and turn and ask questions like, “WHERE DID THEY GET THESE POWERS? WHY IS IT ONLY HER WHO HAS IT? HOW IS SHE STILL COPING WITH THIS? HOW COME NO ONE KNOWS? etc.” It drives me a little crazy, so eventually I give up asking myself all these questions and proceed to accept the authors portrayal of what was happening. The main character is from a male foreigner’s point of view. But I also think it could have benefited from Isabel’s point of view. Sometimes seeing it from one side doesn’t give an all-around sense of story.


A Fierce and Subtle Poison gave me mixed emotions, but I also can’t get this cover out of my head. It really depicts the story very well and the cover designer did a wonderful job.


book quotes

What I feared was a future where I ended up a version of my dad: oblivious and arrogant, disappointed in clearly beautiful things. (55)
I’m not some imprisoned princess who’s desperate for your rescue. I can take care of myself. (112)
You do not fix things, Isabel. You destroy them. (172)
To me, stories were stronger than the truth. (234)

reading progress






  1. Carina Olsen

    September 9, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    Lovely review Giselle 😀 So glad you enjoyed this one. <3 But aw, I'm sorry it wasn't all that good :\ But yesss. That cover is so so pretty 😀
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Book Collection #28My Profile

  2. Sophia Rose

    September 8, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    I hadn’t heard of this one, but the setting and the background sound intriguing. I’ll keep in mind that it has a slow start. Nice review, Giselle!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…#Interview with Xen SandersMy Profile

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