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This Poison Heart

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Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron's new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power. Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully ther Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron's new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power. Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined--it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri's unique family lineage. When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri's sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family. From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.


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Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron's new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power. Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully ther Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron's new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power. Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined--it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri's unique family lineage. When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri's sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family. From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.

30 review for This Poison Heart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    I liked this one but I didn’t love it unfortunately. I think after having such a good time with Cinderella is Dead my expectations were a bit too high. It was a really unique urban fantasy with the plants and poisonous plants in particular being a main part of the story. I loved how it was inspired by the Secret Garden. And I definitely loved Briseis and her parents. But I felt like things meandered a bit too much in the beginning. I think the pacing was off as the book starts with just a lot of I liked this one but I didn’t love it unfortunately. I think after having such a good time with Cinderella is Dead my expectations were a bit too high. It was a really unique urban fantasy with the plants and poisonous plants in particular being a main part of the story. I loved how it was inspired by the Secret Garden. And I definitely loved Briseis and her parents. But I felt like things meandered a bit too much in the beginning. I think the pacing was off as the book starts with just a lot of confusion and questions but never really answers and it came to be repetitive. In the very beginning it did hook me but eventually I wanted more progression and was bored. There also were some instances of a lot of info dumping. I didn’t expect mythology to be so prevalent which was very cool but the incorporation and explanation could be overwhelming. It still was a really unique read, but I don’t think I will pick up the sequel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Gorgeous cover aside, I'm going to need everyone who enjoyed Tracy Deonn's LEGENDBORN to add this to their TBRs a.s.a.p., because this book does with Greek mythology what that book did with Arthurian legends: strong Black heroine, magical heritage, Gothic elements, and family secrets. Can you say "YES"? Because I can. THIS POISON HEART is about a girl named Briseis. She works in a flower shop with her two moms and she has a natural affini Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Gorgeous cover aside, I'm going to need everyone who enjoyed Tracy Deonn's LEGENDBORN to add this to their TBRs a.s.a.p., because this book does with Greek mythology what that book did with Arthurian legends: strong Black heroine, magical heritage, Gothic elements, and family secrets. Can you say "YES"? Because I can. THIS POISON HEART is about a girl named Briseis. She works in a flower shop with her two moms and she has a natural affinity for plants. An affinity that makes them approach her like friends and grow at super-speed. Also, she's immune to poison. I was thinking to myself, "Oh my God, she is literally like Poison Ivy" and was delighted when one of the characters in the book comes to a similar conclusion. Apparently this is also a Secret Garden retelling, but I'm just going to run with the Poison Ivy comparison. She even sort of meets her own Harley Quinn to be her BFF/love interest. Anyway, Briseis finds out that her birth mother left her a house that comes with its own apothecary and garden and that's where things get weird. Because other people are interested in the garden and some of them are benign but some of them not so. And the deeper Briseis delves into the history of her family and her garden, the more she learns what's really at stake. I obviously really enjoyed this book. It's the sort of light and breezy YA novel that I crave, and it didn't pull any punches. The last quarter was brutal and I can't wait to see where the author goes from here in telling Briseis's story. There's a lot to love in this book: beautiful descriptions of plants and nature, elemental magic (a weakness of mine), fairytales and mythology, LGBT+ rep, a main character who loves and will do anything for her family, and a really driving sense of pacing that kept me turning the pages even as part of me wanted to make this last so I could hold onto the story longer. My only complaint is that it suffers from a problem a lot of YA books have: insta-love. I wish the relationship between Briseis and her love interest had been developed just a little more gradually and that there was more will they/won't they? before they finally got together (call me an evergreen, because I'm a sucker for a good pine). That said, I seriously can't wait to read the sequel. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    ↠ 4.5 stars Ever since Briseis was a young girl the plants around her have bowed to her touch, even those with the potential to harm. It's a strange affinity she cannot even begin to understand, having never known her biological parents. When she receives news that she's inherited a rundown estate from an aunt she’s never met, the potential to learn more about her background is achieved. Along with her parents, she leaves Brooklyn behind to spend the summer at the house and hopefully discover mor ↠ 4.5 stars Ever since Briseis was a young girl the plants around her have bowed to her touch, even those with the potential to harm. It's a strange affinity she cannot even begin to understand, having never known her biological parents. When she receives news that she's inherited a rundown estate from an aunt she’s never met, the potential to learn more about her background is achieved. Along with her parents, she leaves Brooklyn behind to spend the summer at the house and hopefully discover more about her past. What she doesn't expect is a secret apothecary hidden in the grounds of the sprawling estate, and an abundance of visitors seeking her remedies. As Bri delves more into her family history and learns more about her affinity for poisons, she unearths something far darker than she expects, something that others would kill to attain. This Poison heart is Kalynn Bayron’s sophomore novel, following up her previous debut Cinderella is Dead. If someone had told me that this would include a Greek mythology reimagining intertwined in the kernel of the story, I would have been all the more excited to sink my teeth into it. Even more to know that it would center around Medea, a figure that I have been waiting ages to get a proper retelling for. There are so many intricate layers to this story, and each one added revealed more complexity to Briseis’s character and the plot development. The plant based magic was by far the most interesting part of the novel for me. I loved how Bayron tied it in with Medea, Hecate, and the rest of Bri’s past. It all came together in a way I did not expect, but am no less impressed by. Bayron leads you into this novel like a quiet friend accompanies one deeper into a sheltered forest. The writing almost seems to mirror the power over plants that Bri possesses exactly. There really is something about reading this that feels akin to being enclosed within a walled garden. In fact, the book that comes to mind when I think about this is The Secret Garden, a favorite from my childhood. While this infinitely surpasses it in every possible way, I cannot help but be reminded of it strongly. The gothic atmosphere, familial relationships, friendships, and sapphic goodness serving to propel it even further. Bri really is a powerful character that I think many readers will come to resonate with, whether they be Black or LGBTQ+. So much of what stuck with me was the fluidity in which Bayron presented commentary on race and societal issues on par with everything else that was going on. It’s definitely something that was done well and I’d love to see more of the fantasy genre. With a cryptic house and a poison laced garden to explore, this story is sure to leave any reader satisfied and eagerly awaiting its follow up. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review Trigger warnings: blood, violence, murder, attempted murder, death, death of a loved one, poisoning, accidental cutting

  4. 5 out of 5

    human

    the math is simple, and the math does not lie: gorgeous cover + ownvoices fantasy retelling = me screaming over why this book feels so far away while aggressively clicking the want to read button

  5. 5 out of 5

    myo (myonna reads)

    i feel like the author was trying to put too many black culture things in the book to make it and bri seem more relatable but it got really annoying at certain points because sometimes characters would say black phrases that didn’t fit into the conversation and it felt like the author was forcing it. i don’t mind having black culture things in books, i love it honestly but authors need to learn when they’re doing it too much. i also felt like the book never really got to the point like the book i feel like the author was trying to put too many black culture things in the book to make it and bri seem more relatable but it got really annoying at certain points because sometimes characters would say black phrases that didn’t fit into the conversation and it felt like the author was forcing it. i don’t mind having black culture things in books, i love it honestly but authors need to learn when they’re doing it too much. i also felt like the book never really got to the point like the book is 400 pages and from the last 65% is when the plot kicks in but other than that i really liked the book. it focuses a lot on greek mythology which was a surprise to me because i love greek mythology. i loved Bri as a character and especially her relationships with her moms and her moms healthy relationships with each other. i can tell the author put a lot of research into this book because everything was written extremely well from the plants to the greek mythology. i cant wait to read the sequel!

  6. 4 out of 5

    afternoonsunjeans

    PLANT MAGIC AND FAMILY SECRETS AND A MYSTERIOUS YOUNG WOMAN SIGN ME UP also, that cover. my my. clutches fist in cottage core lesbian.

  7. 5 out of 5

    literarylesbian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (3 stars) This book had enormous potential, but I feel like much of the plot missed the mark. I really enjoyed the characters, but the plot left something to be desired. My biggest issue regarding the plot was the poor pacing. The main character didn't even arrive at the primary setting until about 25% of the way through. The exposition dragged on for a huge chunk of the beginning, and it made it hard to get through. Because of how slow thing were at the start, it seemed like suddenly everything w (3 stars) This book had enormous potential, but I feel like much of the plot missed the mark. I really enjoyed the characters, but the plot left something to be desired. My biggest issue regarding the plot was the poor pacing. The main character didn't even arrive at the primary setting until about 25% of the way through. The exposition dragged on for a huge chunk of the beginning, and it made it hard to get through. Because of how slow thing were at the start, it seemed like suddenly everything was happening in the last chunk of the book, especially in the last few chapters. This book suffered major finale syndrome. Another problem I had with this story was the use of the immortal love interest trope. It is revealed later in the story that the love interest is actually three-hundred thirty-six, but in the body of a seventeen year old. The main character is barely seventeen, yet is supposed to be dating someone hundreds of years her senior? This might not bother some people, but it's a definite no from me. My final criticism with this book was the author's unwillingness to use words like lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. This book has a modern setting, so the author's avoidance of LGBTQ+ terms makes little sense. Now that we've got my negative opinions out of the way, let's talk a little bit about what I did enjoy: - the characters! Briseis was a really interesting character and I loved her relationship with her moms. - the magic system! The influence of mythology was something that surprised me, but it was super cool. - the handling of adoption! I really appreciated how the author made it clear that Briseis wanting to learn about her birth mother and her family was not a betrayal to her moms, definitely handled this topic with the upmost care. - black representation written by a black author! While I did have some hefty concerns regarding this book, it is in no way a bad book, and I still definitely recommend it for fans of 'Cinderella is Dead'. (edited after correction!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    ☆Pelumi☆ (On major hiatus)

    This woman writes the best books with the best covers, you can't change my mind This woman writes the best books with the best covers, you can't change my mind

  9. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    look at this cover and cry with me, it's so beautiful Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram look at this cover and cry with me, it's so beautiful Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 5 Stars HOLY SH*T THIS WAS SO GOOD! The fun mix of retellings coming together and all of the greek mythology and the queer rep omfg omfg OMFGGGG this book is a DREAM! Literally recommend this with my whole heart! SO DAMN GOOD!!!!! _______________ OMG TAKE MY MONEY

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wren (fablesandwren)

    RTC but damn.. I’ve never read a more unique take on mythology. This book blew my mind. 06/02 Thank you Net Galley and to the publisher for a e-reader and a physical ARC of this book. I absolutely love this book. I did not know what I was getting into when I started this one. All I knew was that the main character could grow plants, aka a dream power I would love to have. Little did I know that there would be LGBTQ+ representation through out the book, the most healthy relationship between a daugh RTC but damn.. I’ve never read a more unique take on mythology. This book blew my mind. 06/02 Thank you Net Galley and to the publisher for a e-reader and a physical ARC of this book. I absolutely love this book. I did not know what I was getting into when I started this one. All I knew was that the main character could grow plants, aka a dream power I would love to have. Little did I know that there would be LGBTQ+ representation through out the book, the most healthy relationship between a daughter and her mothers I have ever seen, a girl trying to learn more about her biological parents with the support of her moms, and also a twist involving greek mythology. So Briseis works in a flower shop with her moms that is actually named after her. They know about her power, they help with her power and they don't use her power to help their shop (which honestly made me weep at the consideration of their daughter). They are having some money issues (and still not exploiting her powers) when all of a sudden.. Briseis inherits this big house and loads of land from her biological aunt that she has never met in her whole life. Her mom passed away and she never expected anything from her biological family.. but she just realized something new about her power and she is eager to see if it is just her, a family trait, a weird coincidence or something else entirely. I will say that the only thing I wish was fleshed out more was the romance. It isn't the main focus of the story, and it absolutely shouldn't be. BUT, it felt a little forced and I wish we had a little more.. feeling in it I guess? Over all, FIVE STARS I LOVE IT PICK THIS BOOK UP I NEED BOOK 2!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Overall 4.5/5 Just wow this book was just everything & more. I loved the modern references such as Get Out & Tiktok as they made me chuckle. One of my favourite parts of this book was the inclusion of Greek Mythology as I didn’t expect it & learning about all the plants mentioned was super interesting to me. Sometimes the main character was a little slow putting clues together but otherwise I really enjoyed reading about her. I went into this book expecting a standalone & was pleasantly surprise Overall 4.5/5 Just wow this book was just everything & more. I loved the modern references such as Get Out & Tiktok as they made me chuckle. One of my favourite parts of this book was the inclusion of Greek Mythology as I didn’t expect it & learning about all the plants mentioned was super interesting to me. Sometimes the main character was a little slow putting clues together but otherwise I really enjoyed reading about her. I went into this book expecting a standalone & was pleasantly surprised that there is going to be a sequel. Thank you to Bloomsbury for the proof copy!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Definitely a step up in storytelling from Cinderella is Dead! This Poison Heart is a cross between Little Shop of Horrors and Greek mythology with Black girl magic. While not a perfect book, there is a lot to like here and I think this will be a hit with a lot of readers. It's fun, creative, mysterious, and has pretty great family dynamics. Briseis was adopted by her two moms, and I LOVE her moms and their relationship with each other- one of the best parts of the book in my opinion. They live in Definitely a step up in storytelling from Cinderella is Dead! This Poison Heart is a cross between Little Shop of Horrors and Greek mythology with Black girl magic. While not a perfect book, there is a lot to like here and I think this will be a hit with a lot of readers. It's fun, creative, mysterious, and has pretty great family dynamics. Briseis was adopted by her two moms, and I LOVE her moms and their relationship with each other- one of the best parts of the book in my opinion. They live in Brooklyn and Briseis is struggling to keep a lid on her secret plant magic. Then they find out that Bri's aunt by blood has left her a mysteriou estate in rural New York, and they decide to visit for the summer. There are family secrets and a poison garden, filled with deadly plants that Briseis is immune to. I love the atmosphere of this book and the way that it wove Greek mythology together with some really cool ideas and tons of information on poisonous plants. The mystery elements are interesting and the ending is pretty intense with a lot of big reveals. I think the one issue I had is there's a lack of foreshadowing for many of those revelations which can make the story feel more meandering than propulsive. This is the sort of book that could have been a page-turner, but instead spends the first half feeling like a slightly magical, introspective coming of age story before eventually shifting to a high-stakes mystery/thriller with mythological elements. And I like that there are quiet moments with the family or discovering things about plants or the house, but I think a little more tension and foreshadowing early on would have made the ending feel less abrupt. Note that this is the start of a series and there is a cliffhanger ending as well! Overall, a solid book and worth a read. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Content warnings include violence, gore, depictions of blood, rituals, death of a loved one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free* I've been ready for this book since I finished Cinderella Is Dead. It didn't even what it was about. If this author wrote it, I was going to read it. Though, the synopsis did make me even more intrigued. A retelling of the The Secret Garden, about a girl who can make plants blossom and grow with a single touch. But, the gift has a deadly side, and she suddenly inherits a mysterious old house that has strangers randomly showing up. Oh yeah, I was intrigued. I just love all Kalynn Bay *Spoiler free* I've been ready for this book since I finished Cinderella Is Dead. It didn't even what it was about. If this author wrote it, I was going to read it. Though, the synopsis did make me even more intrigued. A retelling of the The Secret Garden, about a girl who can make plants blossom and grow with a single touch. But, the gift has a deadly side, and she suddenly inherits a mysterious old house that has strangers randomly showing up. Oh yeah, I was intrigued. I just love all Kalynn Bayron books. I know I've only read two, but two that are as good as these is enough to say that I love all Kalynn Bayron books. I never quite fully got into The Secret Garden. I got the general gist of it, but was very heavy on the general haha. It just didn't seem like something I fully loved. But, I definitely fully loved this retelling. So much so that I might just go check out the original to see what all the hype is about. I know this is weird thing to start off with, but I'm going to start off by talking about the plants, because they were SO COOL. I don't want to go into too much detail about the main character's power, because I don't want to spoil anything, but it was so fascinating. It felt like a breath of fresh air. It was also just downright cool to learn so much about plants haha. Probably because there is an emphasis on the poisonous kind. I think I loved the plant aspect of this book so much because of how freaking well this book is written. Seriously, Bayron is TALENTED. Her writing feels like a cool breeze, something that slips over your skin and leave a refreshing feelings behind. And that feeling goes very well with plants and gardens. It also goes really well with books in general because I really did fall completely love with her writing. It's just that good. The characters were another highlight. The strong, healthy familial relationships, the longing for friendship, and just being downright badass. Every single one of them felt like they had their own story and their own thoughts and feelings. It was amazing. Greek myths also tie heavily into this book and the best way I can describe them is just downright fascinating. Like, I want to go find another Greek myth book to read after this because this one has me craving more. Again, I'll be tightlipped on the specifics to avoid spoilers, but just know that if you enjoy any kind of Greek myths, this is DEFINETLY the book for you. Plus, there's a bit of a mystery and some riddle solving tied into them. Another thing to mention is that I got straightbaited by this book. I know, I'm laughing too, and it's great. Overall, I fell completely in love with this book. Greek myths, amazing writing, plants, and incredible characters, plus so much more, all add up to something amazingly incredible. I'm gonna say it's so good again even though I've said it so many times already, but it's that good. So yes, this book is so good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    aashna

    this was truly a beautiful and spectacular book 😭 i'm in love with kalynn's writing and you can see how much she's grown as a storyteller since she wrote/published cinderella is dead... everyone needs to read this asap this was truly a beautiful and spectacular book 😭 i'm in love with kalynn's writing and you can see how much she's grown as a storyteller since she wrote/published cinderella is dead... everyone needs to read this asap

  16. 4 out of 5

    _Chaotic_Bookworm_

    I loved this so much and first off, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me an ARC. Also I'm sorry for my inability to write formal reviews and the fact that I never stick to a format :) This book is a contemporary fantasy full of magic, mystery, and even Greek mythology. It follows the main character Briseis ( Bri for short ) , who has an ability that allows her to grow plants at will. Besides her powers, her life becomes even more interesting when she inherits an estate from h I loved this so much and first off, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me an ARC. Also I'm sorry for my inability to write formal reviews and the fact that I never stick to a format :) This book is a contemporary fantasy full of magic, mystery, and even Greek mythology. It follows the main character Briseis ( Bri for short ) , who has an ability that allows her to grow plants at will. Besides her powers, her life becomes even more interesting when she inherits an estate from her dead Aunt. This estate and the town it resides in comes with so many secrets, not to mention the magical legacy. I LOVED these characters all so much, and I love Bri's family. Her Moms are so supportive and funny and honestly seem like they'd be fantastic people to hang out with. There are still so many unknowns about certain characters like Karter, Marie, Lou, and others, but even in that uncertainty they are really well written characters. Especially Karter, because his situation is so complex and after that ending I'm not sure Bri or I actually knows anything about him, but I always love a good mystery. I could talk more about this, but again, so many mysteries and secrets and I don't want to spoil anything. I'd like to talk about how much this book made me want to research plants? Suddenly I feel like being a botanist. Bri has a passion for plants, and hearing about others passions always makes me want to research them lol. Going into this book, I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but now I already can't wait for the second book. So when Bri moves into this inherited estate from her dead Aunt, she finds an apothecary and a Poison Garden filled with the deadliest and rarest plants in the world. Not to mention instructions. Odd people start showing up, and this pretty much sets the stage for secrets. I love books full of secrets, mystery, and plot twists because you can never expect the unexpected. I do like to try though. Also the way that Greek mythology was tied into this was amazing and I'm a huge greek mythology nerd. I'm terrible at talking about plot without spoiling things... so I hope this wasn't too ominous? Idk. I will admit at times I think this book was slow in the middle, but I also think that it helped to build the intrigue and mystery. Not to mention that the plot twist and action packed end of the book makes it all worth it. This book is a unique spin on the tale of Medea, and It was actually refreshing in a way to read about someone with a passion for plants, which is something I've never read in another book. for the second book, I hope it has more action like the end of this book had, the sequel has potential to be even greater than this book. Highly recommend.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jude in the Stars

    Not all gifts are welcome. Briseis is bright and determined and if keeping herself in check didn’t require so much of her energy, she’d be an excellent student. But as it is, trying to stop plants – flowers, trees, grass – from reacting to her presence takes a lot of focus. Furthermore, when you’re hiding who you are, it’s hard to keep your friends or make new ones. So when Briseis learns that her birth sister’s mother willed her a property in the countryside, Briseis and her mothers decide to l Not all gifts are welcome. Briseis is bright and determined and if keeping herself in check didn’t require so much of her energy, she’d be an excellent student. But as it is, trying to stop plants – flowers, trees, grass – from reacting to her presence takes a lot of focus. Furthermore, when you’re hiding who you are, it’s hard to keep your friends or make new ones. So when Briseis learns that her birth sister’s mother willed her a property in the countryside, Briseis and her mothers decide to leave Brooklyn and their flower shop for a while and spend the summer in the house the teenager inherited. Despite her fear of being overwhelmed when surrounded by plants, Briseis finds herself able to relax in a brand new way. She also realises there’s more to what she inherited than an old house and a garden. Her birth family’s history goes back a very long time and her ability to make plants grow is only the tip of the iceberg. The safe part of the iceberg. The main character, Briseis, is relatable despite her incredible gift, her two moms – Mom and Mo – are wonderful, all three are complex and flawed but full of love and trust. I loved the moms, the relationship between them and their relationship with their daughter. When the three of them first arrive in the small town near which the estate is located, Briseis and her parents worry that everyone seems so white, and Briseis brings up the movie Get Out and jokes that she doesn’t want a white woman living in her body. With a few words here and there, Bayron inserts social commentary in a way that feels so natural it almost seems inadvertent. Very efficient, however. Because they’re new to the area, Briseis and her parents meet the secondary characters at the same time as the reader. We have the same information about the people they come across. We trust who they trust, dislike who they’re wary of. Not all are who they seem to be and those who apparently are might reveal themselves not to be in the next book. Whatever happens, I hope we get to see more of Marie, the gorgeous young woman who pikes Briseis’s interest, and her unusual bodyguard Nyx, as well as Mama Lucille, Dr Grant and her father the alchemist, and others. I enjoyed Kalynn Bayron’s debut novel Cinderella is Dead a lot last summer, and was looking forward to her second book. I’m happy to say that I liked it even more and that the issues I had with the writing of the first book aren’t a problem with this one. This Poison Heart feels like The Little Shop of Horrors meets Percy Jackson, with Greek mythology mixed with killer plants and Black girl magic. Bayron sets the atmosphere cleverly, slowly, quietly, until it becomes stifling and thrilling towards the end. Speaking of which, This Poison Heart is the first book in a series and ends on a stunning cliffhanger. I don’t know when the next installment is planned and I hope we won’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next. I received a copy from the publisher and I am voluntarily leaving a review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    I'll be honest, I didn't realise this was going to be a series until the end but I'm not even mad about it because this was the little shop of horrors/secret garden crossover I didn't know my heart desired. It has everything. A secret garden, killer plants, a creepy old house, poisons, betrayal, witchcraft, a wonderful family dynamic, greek mythology and a helluva lot of secrets. This is definitely one to pick up if you're in the market for a brilliantly written, fast paced queer read featuring, I'll be honest, I didn't realise this was going to be a series until the end but I'm not even mad about it because this was the little shop of horrors/secret garden crossover I didn't know my heart desired. It has everything. A secret garden, killer plants, a creepy old house, poisons, betrayal, witchcraft, a wonderful family dynamic, greek mythology and a helluva lot of secrets. This is definitely one to pick up if you're in the market for a brilliantly written, fast paced queer read featuring, greek mythology, killer plants and Black girl magic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    THIS WAS EVERYTHING Ever have one of those books where you just know you will love it right from the first sentence? The writing, the characters (the MOMS!!!), the mystery, the plants on plants on plants—I loved it all. The only thing I didn't love? That fucking cliffhanger! Now I have to wait a million years for book 2 and I needs it now. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review THIS WAS EVERYTHING Ever have one of those books where you just know you will love it right from the first sentence? The writing, the characters (the MOMS!!!), the mystery, the plants on plants on plants—I loved it all. The only thing I didn't love? That fucking cliffhanger! Now I have to wait a million years for book 2 and I needs it now. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  20. 4 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was such a unique, refreshing take on Greek mythology! I loved getting to know Briseis, her mothers, and reading about her adventure of identity discovery. First of all, I love the representation of sapphic elders in this book. It's so rare that I see an LGBTQ couple in the spotlight over the age of... say 35? Reading the beautifully casual representation of that couple was so healing for me, as I have no queer "elder" role models, and it's sometimes so hard to imagine myself in a queer, li This was such a unique, refreshing take on Greek mythology! I loved getting to know Briseis, her mothers, and reading about her adventure of identity discovery. First of all, I love the representation of sapphic elders in this book. It's so rare that I see an LGBTQ couple in the spotlight over the age of... say 35? Reading the beautifully casual representation of that couple was so healing for me, as I have no queer "elder" role models, and it's sometimes so hard to imagine myself in a queer, lifelong relationship. I think Bayron was masterful in writing quirky, fleshed out, lovable characters in this book. Seriously, I loved every single character! The plot development, character set-up, and writing was definitely a step up from Bayron's debut novel, Cinderella is Dead, although I was also a huge fan of that book. I wasn't thrilled with the "immortal love interest" trope in this book. I think it's SO creepy to pair an underage character with a love interest who has the body of a 17 year old, but is actually like,, 350 years old. The inclusion of this trope in this book was /very/ disappointing to me, and although their romance is brief, (I'm expecting more of it in book 2) I was super grossed out by it, and probably wouldn't have picked up the book had I known that trope would be present. Overall, I think this was a great read! Bayron does a fantastic job combining reality, complete with 21st century pop culture references, with the magic of Greek mythology, and I'm really looking forward to book 2!

  21. 4 out of 5

    atlas ♡

    DNF @ 71% Mainly DNFed because of the horrible age gap between the MC and love interest, (376 to 17 i'm pretty sure). The whole "immortal" love interest trope is overused and just gross. The pacing was weird and barely anything had happened. Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending out a copy in exchange for my honest review. DNF @ 71% Mainly DNFed because of the horrible age gap between the MC and love interest, (376 to 17 i'm pretty sure). The whole "immortal" love interest trope is overused and just gross. The pacing was weird and barely anything had happened. Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending out a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    4.5 stars rounded up! I have been anxiously awaiting This Poison Heart after finishing Cinderella is Dead, and I am here to say the Kalynn Bayron has definitely leveled up here storytelling because this book blew me away. Briseis is gifted with the ability to grow plants from seeds as well as revive dead plants. Briseis has never really considered a life outside of Brooklyn and the flower shop that she helps her mothers run until she is gifted a huge estate following the death of her birth mother 4.5 stars rounded up! I have been anxiously awaiting This Poison Heart after finishing Cinderella is Dead, and I am here to say the Kalynn Bayron has definitely leveled up here storytelling because this book blew me away. Briseis is gifted with the ability to grow plants from seeds as well as revive dead plants. Briseis has never really considered a life outside of Brooklyn and the flower shop that she helps her mothers run until she is gifted a huge estate following the death of her birth mother’s sister. This sounds like the perfect opportunity for Briseis to finally test the limits of her powers without the potential to hurt anyone plus this gives her family a place to live rent-free following the rent hikes in the city. Let me start with the fact that Briseis is an incredible character. Briseis is Black and bisexual. She grapples with what it means to have abilities that were passed down from a family that she’s never known as well as the love and life that her amazing mothers have given her. Briseis is passionate about botany thanks to her ability. She can literally touch poisonous plants with virtually no side effects…JEALOUS. Now let’s get into side characters. Briseis’ mothers are the type of parents that young people NEED to see on page. They are so supportive of Briseis even if it means them setting aside their personal feelings in order for Briseis to learn more about her history and abilities. However, I will pass on Mo’s waffles. Y’all will know what I’m talking about when you read this. This book is so much more than just a fantasy. There’s a mystery aspect to the plot that I found myself fully immersed in. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Greek mythology retelling. I refuse to tell y’all which Greek god/goddess that this story refers to because I think that this is something that you should experience for yourself. Oh, and you know what, Bayron really decided to stand on our necks with the cliffhanger in this book. I am so angry that I need to wait for book two, but here I am as a Bayron simp waiting on book two. Overall, if you’re looking for a story that features some incredible Black girl magic, a queer normative world, and a mystery that will keep you on your toes then definitely pick this one up! Thank you Bloomsbury YA for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    bie

    got to buddy read this with saima which made it even better! any ya book that has supportive parents is a good book in my eyes, especially if the parents in question are the most badass, funny, and caring mothers in history. the characters, especially the greene family, were so much fun to read about and discover. it's a pretty small set of actual important characters but i feel like that's for the better cause it allows the reader to understand them. i do hope we'll learn more about the colchis got to buddy read this with saima which made it even better! any ya book that has supportive parents is a good book in my eyes, especially if the parents in question are the most badass, funny, and caring mothers in history. the characters, especially the greene family, were so much fun to read about and discover. it's a pretty small set of actual important characters but i feel like that's for the better cause it allows the reader to understand them. i do hope we'll learn more about the colchis family in the sequel, but also about mom's side of the family (view spoiler)[(*eyes emoji* i see you ladies and your magic) (hide spoiler)] . family plays a very important part in this poison heart and you can really feel their love in every interaction. the way it handles adoption and how her mothers make it clear that it's okay for bri to want to learn more about her birth family was one of my favorite things about the book! another part i loved was bri's journey to understanding and accepting herself and her powers. she made me roll my eyes at some parts because of the decisions she took but she's a kid, she gets a pass. back to the powers though. i, personally, am a big fan of corruption arcs in general so my first wish was to see her go absolutely feral at some point, but at a second glance... i don't think that would fit here. but i want briseis (the names!!! are so cool!!! i loved the bits and pieces of mythology) to learn more and i'm so curious to see the full extent of her powers. and more marie, please! talking about marie... i loved her, obviously, (view spoiler)[even though i'm not entirely sure how i feel about the age difference (magical age difference always makes me a bit :/ but she did pull a wonderful edward cullen "how long have you been 17" moment) (hide spoiler)] but i can't truly express myself because, for a love interest, she wasn't very... present. i kept hoping she'd show up at times but to no avail. i'm not sure how i feel about the romance since we didn't actually get to see much of it. i'm not complaining, not necessarily, because i value meaningful friendships and family time and all that... but more marie, please, miss bayron!! the ending broke me and i! will need a moment! to get it back together. that's quite of an ending... 2022 is not a real year but i need it to come sooner!! it was a lot of fun to see the title reveal for the sequel almost the second i was done with this one. trigger warnings: attempted murder, accidental cutting, blood, death of a parent, poisoning, violence.

  24. 4 out of 5

    M. Reads Books and Fics

    I cannot believe what a wild ride this book was! I fell in love with the cover immediately, and I was drawn in more and more as the story went on. This is going to be a book I believe everyone will enjoy because of the rich imagery and prose! I loved learning more about the Greek mythology in the book! I thought I was going to expect the book to go one way, and it completely surprised me. I was also curious since I saw it was part of a series, and it did not feel that vibe at the start. However, I cannot believe what a wild ride this book was! I fell in love with the cover immediately, and I was drawn in more and more as the story went on. This is going to be a book I believe everyone will enjoy because of the rich imagery and prose! I loved learning more about the Greek mythology in the book! I thought I was going to expect the book to go one way, and it completely surprised me. I was also curious since I saw it was part of a series, and it did not feel that vibe at the start. However, it will make sense once you read more. Bri lives with her moms in Brooklyn, and she finds out she now owns a house in a small town that belonged to her birth mother’s sister, her aunt. The family packs up and moves to the town for the summer, unsure of what they will find while they are there. This is a good way to help Bri get away from her friends who had not been talking to her, and she is trying to find out the deal with her gift. She can cultivate plants to be very healthy, and she is able to work with poison plants, too. Unsure of what this means, she hopes this home will provide the answers she seeks. I loved this book because it was about a strong Black teen who is queer, and she is proud of who she is. There is also so much Greek mythology, I was loving it. I also liked learning about the plants and the healing properties they have. Her birth family had an apothecary, which I thought was super interesting. Bri wants to start it up again because the whole town does rely on it, and this would help the money problems her family is having. The story is well done, and I was shocked by some of the reveals. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I had no idea. The magic and world building gets richer in the book as time goes on, so it is best to stick with it and see what will happen. Seeing Bri learn she is magic and a witch was cool, because I was not quite sure what the direction would be. The magic aspect is cool, and it was not cheesy at all. All of the magical elements in the book are great, and I love the ties to Greek myths. Overall, this is an amazing start to a series, and I am already keen for book two! Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free digital copy of this book for exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Marie

    Holy moly, this book is actual queer magic!!! I just finished and am absolutely distraught that I have to wait who knows how long for the sequel! Full coherent rtc

  26. 5 out of 5

    jut

    this was truly a beautiful and spectacular book, i can't believe what a wild ride this book was! ✨ and it's called black magic ✨ this was truly a beautiful and spectacular book, i can't believe what a wild ride this book was! ✨ and it's called black magic ✨

  27. 4 out of 5

    birdie

    kalynn bayron™ – bringing you sapphic black girl magic stories with a dark touch since 2020.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janna

    review to come 🌱

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    Wonderful and captivating YA fantasy Briseis knows she has a rare gift--with just a touch, she can grow plants. But this gift also attracts attention. So when she inherits an estate in rural New York from a relative, Briseis and her moms see this as a chance to get away and perhaps learn to control her power. Upon arriving at her new home, Briseis finds it to be beautiful--and mysterious. The property is filled with secret gardens and the house itself with notes and clues about her family's past Wonderful and captivating YA fantasy Briseis knows she has a rare gift--with just a touch, she can grow plants. But this gift also attracts attention. So when she inherits an estate in rural New York from a relative, Briseis and her moms see this as a chance to get away and perhaps learn to control her power. Upon arriving at her new home, Briseis finds it to be beautiful--and mysterious. The property is filled with secret gardens and the house itself with notes and clues about her family's past. Then the local townsfolk start showing up at Briseis' doorstep, and she realizes the house once served as an apothecary. Briseis has an uncanny knack for whipping up the healing potions everyone desires, but the more she investigates, she realizes there is a darker side to the house and its powers. One that could have dangerous consequences for Briseis and her entire family. "I was pretty sure that growing a poisonous bush in the park wasn't what they had in mind for how I should spend my summer." This was a completely awesome book! The story is totally engrossing. There are poisonous plants, secret gardens, Greek mythology, and a gothic vibe--what's not to love? Briseis is an amazing character. She's strong, brave, and tough; she's also bisexual and loved unconditionally by her two moms, Mom and Mo. The book offers such a great family dynamic, with an excellent attitude toward adoption. It's no big deal that Bri is bi or that she has two Moms--it's just a fact of life. How I appreciate that in a YA book. "'Did I--did I inherit the Addams Family Mansion?'" I've read several books lately with Greek mythology and didn't care for them, but this one broke the mold. The stories are woven in perfectly and add to the plot flawlessly. The story is completely captivating and I loved all the strong women in it. It's also part mystery, part myth, which adds to the page-turning aspect. (Be forewarned, this is book #1, so this ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.) Overall, cannot recommend this book enough. It's a unique and mesmerizing fantasy. The fact that it's so queer inclusive is lovely. I'll be impatiently waiting for book #2. 4.5 stars. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's in return for an unbiased review. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

  30. 5 out of 5

    rita (sapphicrita)

    2.5/5. I was so excited to read This Poison Heart after having read Cinderella is Dead that I bought it the day it was released. My expectations were high-ish and, unfortunately, I was left disappointed. There was barely anything happening in the first half of the book - the plot didn't truly pick up until the last 70 pages or so. Too much happened within those 70 pages and as a result, the ending felt rushed. I had to reread several pages to fully grasp everything that was suddenly being thrown 2.5/5. I was so excited to read This Poison Heart after having read Cinderella is Dead that I bought it the day it was released. My expectations were high-ish and, unfortunately, I was left disappointed. There was barely anything happening in the first half of the book - the plot didn't truly pick up until the last 70 pages or so. Too much happened within those 70 pages and as a result, the ending felt rushed. I had to reread several pages to fully grasp everything that was suddenly being thrown at me and still I was left slightly confused. Something I also didn't like was the age gap between Briseis and her love interest. Her LI had no business being interested in a teenager - it felt all kinds of wrong and creepy. Now the good parts: BRISEIS' MUMS. Oh my god. We need more queer parents in YA books. I also loved how Bayron incorporated Greek mythology into this book, particularly Circe. The magic system is interesting and simple enough. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read by any means but I probably won't be reading the sequel. If you read This Poison Heart and enjoyed it, I would strongly recommend Cinderella is Dead by the same author. It's a dark queer retelling of Cinderella and, in my opinion, a much better story.

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