A Fierce and Subtle Poison

Say what you will about familiarity, classics, and favorite places. But there may be nothing I love more than genreless or genre-bent stories. You know the ones. The ones that go on just about every one of your Goodreads shelves because…what the heck is it? And does it even matter?

Add to that a stunning cover, a YA debut, and a good word from Maggie Stiefvater and guess what? I’m sold.


A Fierce and Subtle Poison

  • Author: Samantha Mabry
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: We discussed this already. There’s poison, storms, and murder.
  • At a glance: Lucas feels like he belongs to this place more than he belongs with his Rich White Father™. There’s a house at the end of Calle Sol. Ask anyone for a different version of the story that belongs to it, then go throw a wish to the poisoned witch that lives there.


I was itching to get this book when it first released. But I learned that Samantha would be at NTTBF16 and I said “Self, you have to wait. You can get it signed there.”

Well, NTTBF16 turned out to be such a madhouse that I did not, in fact, get to meet miss Mabry. But my best friend did, twice, and informed me that she was the Cutest of Cuties and her book was incredible. So I dove in as soon as I figured out the rest of my leftover TBR. What I found was kind of shocking.

I didn’t know much about this book, going into it. I fell in love with the lush cover and the title and the fact of a brand-new, un-genre-ed debut. Then I cracked it open and found a blonde-haired-blue-eyed-sarcastic-as-hell protagonist and after that, I was sold.

There’s something about this book that makes it kind of un-quantifiable at first. It’s sitting on the corner of my desk right now, and it’s sort of asking me to read it again because isn’t there a chance you missed something, Linnea?

There is, and I probably did. It was intoxicating to read in one go, and I got caught up in a deluge of rain and pain and holy crap that ending. It was a ride, and one I’m glad I took. But here I am on the other side, thinking “Man, what just happened?”

It’s been a couple days, and I’m still not quite sure about all of it. But one thing is for sure: Samantha Mabry is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a kind of underlying power in her words and imagery that makes me wish and wish and wish for more of her writing. I can’t wait to see what happens from here–and I can’t wait to revisit the house at the end of Calle Sol and see what other wishes I can make there.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 Stars
  • Recommended to: Fans of intrigue and whirlwind-type stories that don’t let you ask any questions before you get going
  • Lasting impression: Sand on the soles of your feet. Rain and rain and rain and the crash of the sea so constant you forget about it until it swallows you.

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