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.
At its center, This Poison Heart is a story about family, the one you’re born into and the ones you create. Bri’s adoptive mothers have never kept her adoption hidden or denied her access to her biological mother. They acknowledge Bri’s past while helping her carve out a future of her own. Importantly, when their daughter has the opportunity to live in her ancestral home and get to know her late biological mother, they never get jealous over Bri’s attention. They offer her support on her journey and space to process without throwing Selene under the bus or guilt tripping Bri for wanting to learn more about her ancestors. Unlike many YA fantasies, Angie and Thandie are present for or at least aware of most of the magical shenanigans that take place; Bri does not feel like she has to face her insurmountable odds alone.
Read the rest of my review at locusmag.com.