Poison's Kiss #1
by Breeana Shields
Published on January 10, 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It's a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she's really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.
This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
I feel like I missed something with Poison’s Kiss. Everyone seems to have absolutely loved it and I’m over here like “yeah, it was good, I’d probably buy it” but I can’t say I’m raving about it to everyone I see.
This book moves both fast and slow and wasn’t nearly long enough for me. In the beginning, I can’t say I was really hooked. I just… read. I never quite lost myself in the world that Shields created in the same way that I did with another Hindu based series (Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck). I loved the idea of the visha kanya — poison maidens — who quite literally delivered the kiss of death. That idea is so cool! And also could potentially suck if you like someone but that’s also addressed in this book so there’ s a workaround.
So we have a cool idea that isn’t really presented in a captivating manner (but still cool!). Keep reading. Our heroine, Marinda, is a lot like the story — lacking. I can’t really tell what she’s lacking in but I wasn’t super engaged in her tale but I also didn’t dislike her. Indifferent, that’s a good word for it. I was indifferent to her struggles. Does she succeed in finding a way out of her job? Does she fail? Eh, I can’t say I was worried about the outcome.
It’s weird, because this book is fairly fast-paced. The story, the romance (a bit too fast on that front), just the general writing moved quickly. And it’s a short book, barely scraping the 300-page mark. There’s a lot that has to happen in those pages to get from point A to B. Yet I found it missed that crucial hook to ensure I absolutely needed the next book. To a degree, I got it after investing the few hours it took to read, but nothing where a part of me died inside because I didn’t have a sequel on hand.
The thing is, I was really missing the world in this one. I’m a fantasy reader. I love sweeping epics and beautifully crafted worlds and this one lacked the detail for it. To be honest, I’m not all that familiar with Indian culture other than I know there is a lot more variety than treating the country as a single religious entity. And this book felt like it was trying to pull from multiple sources but never really fleshing anything out. I thought the influence could have made a strong world for this story but I never got enough out of it for that to matter.
Yet through it all, the writing is good. The plot was good, if a bit too fast for my tastes. I would read more by this author. I’ll likely get this book. And any sequels. Poison’s Kiss is good. I can’t say it’s a standout for the genre but it wasn’t a bad read. I just wanted… more from it that just wasn’t there.