This Poison Heart // secrets, atmosphere, and a dash of poison

Not gonna lie, I was a touch bored with my blog aesthetic.

I mean, as a whole it was fine. But my header was very much giving minimalistic bleh vibes, and I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I could do better. Plus, I wasn’t feeling my stats homework either so it was time to procrastinate some more by a little late night Canva rabbit hole-ing.

After a couple hours spent down the rabbit hole, I ended up converting all of the chunky stars to match the ones from the dividers reading “details” and “overview,” as well as making some changes to font for post images. I know the cursive isn’t as bold as the previous font, so do let me know if it is readable and what y’all think. The overall vibe is supposed to be more vibey (yes, i know a vibey vibe isn’t the best description but it just fits okaY?????

Anyhow. Review time.

When it came to my first experience with Kalynn Bayron’s work, Cinderella Is Dead, my biggest gripe was the amount of unlived up to potential. But the premise of This Poison Heart seemed promising, so I took the plunge and decided to read it. And my god am I glad I did because This Poison Heart took it’s prickly vines and wove them around my heart. 

Book: This Poison Heart

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Published June 29th 2021 by Bloomsbury YA

Format: ebook

content warnings

CW: Self-injury, Death, Murder & attempted murder, Poisoning

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 Goodreads)

From the get-go there is a strong familial bond established. Bri and her moms have always been a package dealio, and their dynamic is just everything. The support, the snark, and the burnt waffles make for a family unit that will win you over in a heartbeat. 

There are other relationships throughout the book that really stand out as well. From the starts of friendships to the kindling of romance, This Poison Heart has relationships down. I really enjoyed the hints of romance between Bri and Marie. Romance isn’t a huge thing in this book —again, familial relationships are the headliners here— but the sparks of it were enough to feed the romance loving beast within. I’m excited to see both where Marie’s character and the potential romance go in the next book!

It takes a hot minute to get to the real root (get it?? like plant roots???) of the story, but it never felt slow. It is a distinct possibility it never felt slow to me because I didn’t read the synopsis (and therefore didn’t know all the deets), so keep in mind it might take a moment to get to the whole secret gardens, inheritance, apothecary bit. 

Once the story set down it’s roots and truly began to develop into a full blown sproutlet, it got so good, so fast. The vibes alone were immaculate. I mean, picture this: a home previously abandoned, filled with secrets of a family linage unknown to Bri. Nestled on 40 acres of lush, forest-y land with plants always peaked and at attention. Secrets, poisons, and one girl left to shear the bushy bush of lies to find the truth beneath. 

Like the setting alone is so atmospheric, so vibey. Add in a layer of secrets, plant-centric intrigue, and a voice that feels lively and light, and you’ve got an unputdownable story. 

My only criticism of This Poison Heart would be its predictability. Instead of nestling plot twists like cleverly disguised four leaf clovers in a vast field, some of the twists felt like neon yellow clovers that shouted look at me! I’m a plot twist! Be suspicious! 

I mean, obviously that is a bit over dramatic, but my point still stands. Some of the twists could have been integrated a bit deeper for maximum hidden-ness. 

Y’all. This book is so good. It truly has everything you could ever want from a contemporary fantasy. I mean, poisonous plants, Greek mythology, creepy old houses, Gothic-inspired atmosphere, kindlings of sapphic romance, family bonds, I’m not kidding when I say This Poison Heart has it all. 

Have you read This Poison Heart? What did you think of it? What books are you reading for spooky season?

16 thoughts on “This Poison Heart // secrets, atmosphere, and a dash of poison

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