Often, I am reluctant to review books that fall under the genre of magical realism. Something about the genre just turns me off- I’m quite not sure what. But this debut set in Puerto Rico sounded too good to turn away, so I picked it up.
The best way to describe A Fierce and Subtle Poison is lush. Set in a small Puerto Rican vacation town, the novel teems with luxurious white sand beaches and verdant gardens. But just like the lavish but deadly gardens Mabry writes about, her debut has a chilling undercurrent lurking not-so-subtly under the surface. A Fierce and Subtle Poison follows Lucas, an American hotel developer’s son. He lives in Texas during the year, but comes to Puerto Rico in the summer to lounge on the beach with the locals, soaking up sun and legends. One legend says there’s a girl with grass for hair and skin as green as the poisonous plants she feeds off. They say if you slip a wish over her garden wall, it’ll come true. Lucas has tried this- with no luck. But when a letter from the grass haired girl appears in his room the same day his summer fling goes missing, he decides to dig deeper into the legend. As Lucas gets to know the poisonous girl- Isabel he’s drawn into a dark and dangerous world where no one comes out unscathed.
I loved A Fierce and Subtle Poison. It’s the perfect book to read on the beach- if you’re okay with a little scare.