From the very first page, I was drawn to the world built by Natalie Mae. Orkena is a beautiful, magical place, as wonderful as it is flawed and as intriguing as it is mysterious. It is no mean feat to create a fictional setting in which a book takes place, and an even meaner feat to craft a world with its own religion, culture, and sense of tradition. I would say that Mae went above and beyond when it came to making the reader feel like they were really in a strange desert land filled with danger and semi-murderous, slightly entitled royalty. The characters were equally engaging – passionate and independent Zahru, bold and brash Hen, cold and unhinged Kasta, stubborn but compassionate Jet, and wild and determined Sakira. You know characters are well written when you can’t help but feel you know them – their hopes and fears and aspirations. I loved that each character felt like they had redeeming qualities and even the villain of the story wasn’t all bad. I also really appreciated that as much as Zahru wished it was different, her powers were always consistent. I’ve found that a lot of YA fantasy novels set the main character up to be someone with lackluster powers who, through some hardship, discovers they actually have awesome powers unlike any the world has ever seen. Although there’s nothing wrong with that particular angle, I liked that in The Kinder Poison, Zahru can still be her own hero without having to come into a rare ability – it’s enough that she’s a Whisperer. The fantastic world-building, captivating characters, and overall fast pacing made The Kinder Poison a quick, fun read that kept my attention from start to finish. It’s everything a YA fantasy should be, and I simply cannot wait to read the next book in the series! *Thank you BookishFirst and Razorbill for the opportunity to read a copy in exchange for an honest review
The cover and premise of this beautiful book left me with no doubt that I'd love the adventure and characters waiting for me on these pages and now, after finishing way past my bedtime last night, I need book two now. I've already marked the sequel as to-be-read long before I reached that cliff hanger of an ending that left my chin and heart on the floor of my living room. Zahru is so real and makes a fun protagonist to get to know and travel with through all her adventures. She is snarky, acts and speaks before thinking (her impulsiveness makes for exciting edge-of-seat reading time), kindhearted, smart, and loves her family and friends with such strong loyalty. The first person point of view from Zahru immeditely pulled me into this stunning and believable world and never let me go. Jet--I now have a new book boyfriend! I so love when an author can create characters that pull on my emotions like Jet. The themes of doing greater good than self, friendship, family, and learning self acceptance make this fantasy novel a well-rounded tale. The author never skimped on the depper issues or showing the emotional turmoil. She twisted the plot in surprising ways for me and that always makes me love a book even more. The world building is some of the best I've ever read and the magic seemed like it really existed and was easy to understand. I highly recommend this book for fantasy lovers and anyone who loves character-driven stories.
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The Kinder Poison follows Zahru, a sympathetic protagonist who has the power to commune with animals. As amazing as that sounds, being a Whisperer places her in the lower ends of social status—far removed from royalty. But one mistake lands her in the middle of. The Crossing, a deadly race that ends with Zahru as the human sacrifice. This story is rife with rich fantasy, vivid world building, intrigue, morally gray characters, friendship, romance, and even humor. Overall, it was a fun read that entertained on many levels, leaving me eager to read the sequel. I would definitely recommend this book to readers of fantasy who enjoy political intrigue set within a monarchy entrenched in magic.