A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Release: April 12, 2016 from Algonquin Young Readers
In this stunning debut, legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison.Anyone who knows me or who has been reading my blog for a length of time should know I'm a graphic design enthusiast. While I'm not an expert myself, I enjoy laying out pages for my school's newspaper, making graphics for my blog, and appreciating the work of those whose skills far exceed mine. The cover of A Fierce and Subtle Poison is one such piece of work; it is a triumph of graphic design that compelled me to add the book to my to-read list even before I read its description.
Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl—Isabel, the one the senoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.
Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.
Each time I glance at this cover, I become entranced by the flowery foreground. At first glance, it seems wild, natural, and dangerous, implanting in me hopes for a thrilling plot. However, the flawless geometric design of each leaf and flower reminds viewers that A Fierce and Subtle Poison is in fact larger than life, setting magic and mysticism against its Caribbean backdrop. When these two reactions combine, the resulting sensation prepares readers for an exciting yet smoothly-executed portrayal of magic—which the author is sure to deliver.
Equally beautiful is the title font; its sharp edges make it bold and fierce, but its positioning behind a few stray vines also makes it shrouded and subtle, as if waiting for the right moment to leap into view. I have a feeling I will be able to describe the plot in the same way—first quiet and reserved, then, in a moment, bursting into life—and I cannot wait to find out if the story matches my now-incredibly-high expectations.