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A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Contributor(s): Mabry, Samantha
ISBN: 1616205210     ISBN-13: 9781616205218
Publisher: Algonquin Books
    OUR PRICE: $17.77  
Product Type: Hardcover - Other Formats
Published: April 2016
Qty:
Annotation: Spending the summer with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico, seventeen-year-old Lucas turns to a legendary cursed girl filled with poison when his girlfriend mysteriously disappears.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Supernatural; Fiction.
Poisons; Fiction.
Love; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2015023792
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 6.00" W x 1.00" (0.88 lbs) 279 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 180931
Reading Level: 5.7   Interest Level: Upper Grades   Point Value: 10.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q68580
Reading Level: 6.6   Interest Level: Grades 9-12   Point Value: 16.0
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Fall)
Teenage playboy Lucas spends the summers in his real-estate developer father's luxe hotel in Puerto Rico. When girls start disappearing from the island and Lucas's latest hookup ends up dead, he becomes entangled with a creepy botanist and his daughter and is a suspect in the island's foul play. The story, with elements of magical realism, is satisfyingly moody, lyrical, and mysterious.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2016 January #3)

Inspired by Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter," debut author Mabry blends magical realism with mystery in the story of Lucas Knight, the 17-year-old son of a hotel developer spending his summers in San Juan. Instead of thinking about college, Lucas spends his time with friends Ruben, Rico, and Carlos, enjoying the nightlife despite tales of curses and ghosts, and the disappearances of several young girls in town. When a scribbled wish that Ruben's cousin Marisol leaves at a cursed house is returned to Lucas, he investigates, meeting and falling for an occupant of the house, Isabel Ford, whose touch is poisonous. Lucas becomes a suspect after Marisol's body washes up on the shore and her younger sister goes missing. With the police on Lucas's heels and Isabel's poison slowly killing her, the two race to put a stop to the disappearances and end the curse. Mabry smoothly joins dreamy, fever-induced scenes with the lore of "la ciguapa," a beautiful creature that leads men to insanity or death with a kiss, and her atmospheric ending guarantees goose bumps. Ages 12–up. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffman & Associates. (Apr.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2016 March)

Gr 7 Up—This first-person murder mystery is set in Puerto Rico, where Lucas, a biracial 17-year-old with blond hair and blue eyes, finds himself the prime suspect in the murders of two young women. It doesn't help that his hotel-developing American father is wealthy or that he enjoys frequenting parties. Even some of his local friends doubt his credibility given that he discovered the body of one of the victims, the beautiful Marisol—and his latest fling. Despite his shock, Lucas continues to be magnetically drawn to the ominous home of the American scientist Dr. Ford with its supposed wish-granting ghost. When he finds the man's spirited daughter Isabel instead, Lucas begins to understand the cause of recent bizarre events, and the two work together in a race against time to prevent further killings. Yet proximity to the girl results in physical illness, as well as a fatalistic attraction despite plagues of mosquitoes and even a hurricane. The magical realism in this book draws heavily on themes related to science and scientific research evidenced in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter," intertwined with references to legends of Dominican ciguapas—beautiful mythic female beings that lure men to their death. The "exotic" foreign setting includes suspicious, gossiping locals; lush landscapes; and extreme weather, together with eerie romance and unexpected perils requiring superherolike resolve and physical stamina. This book will appeal to teens, particularly fans of romance and murder mysteries; however, Lucas's outsider perspective toward the island, particularly at the beginning of the text, tends to mask critical themes of race, power, and identity, as well as the impact of U.S. control in Puerto Rico. VERDICT A complex text best used in book clubs or classrooms where teens can discuss the dominant monocultural readings of the book, as well as the tourist perspectives of Puerto Rico.—Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

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