Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
“The Master Trio Potioners’ flat didn’t look impregnable.”
Poison is one of those delightfully fun and imaginative books that reminds me why I fell in love with fantasy as a child. I love hyped, high, epic fantasy as much as the next person, but I also have a soft spot in my heart for solidly enjoyable fantasy that mixes my favorite tropes with a spark of creativity. Poison may not be on my list of Greatest Fantasy Novels Ever, but it made me smile and look at the fantasy genre through fresh eyes.
The poisoner aspect adds a unique touch to the story. Although Kyra is skilled at a number of arts, including actual physical fighting, her talent lies in her ability to mix poisons. It’s a talent she relishes as being closer to science than to magic, but her unique proficiency shows there’s something of creativity and art needed to it, as well. It seems there is a poison to achieve just about anything, from camouflage to sleeping, if only someone can discover the correct formula.
The story is not necessarily about poisoning, though it certainly comes into play, but rather about Kyra’s quest to kill the princess she once loved—or else watch the kingdom be destroyed. This is all quite dramatic, but I have to admit it’s ambiguous for the majority of the novel why Kyra feels she has to do this. Readers generally have to take her word for it that it’s actually a good idea and the right thing to do. The pacing is a bit off in this regards, and I also found the story episodic. Despite my fondness for actual medieval literature, which is itself episodic, this is not my favorite characteristic of modern-day novels. The seemingly unrelated episodes do come somewhat together at the end, which is nice, but the story does still feel choppy at points.
Nonetheless, the individual adventures are fun, and Zinn really gets me on board with the book by adding a cute romance and some adorable animals. Poison introduces readers to the most heartwarming pig since Wilbur, as well as a dashing dog. The love interest will endear himself to readers through his own love of the animals, in addition to other charming characteristics.
Overall, Poison is just a delightful fantasy book. With magic, a kingdom in danger, dark secrets, and a kickass heroine, it’s about all I could want to enjoy a good story.