Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chick Pick: The Poison Diaries: Nightshade

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade
by Maryrose Wood
Balzer + Brey (HarperCollins)
288 pages

available October 25, 2011
enter the world of Nightshade

Stunning, magical, and other-worldly, Nightshade envelops readers in its deadly atmosphere. I was immediately swept away and captivated by the character of Jessamine and the premise of the novel. Master storyteller Maryrose Wood weaves a believable tale of a boy who can communicate with all flora--plants, trees, and even weeds--his name is Weed, in fact. He studies with a noted plant expert in Northumberland during the reign of George II. The teacher has a few dark secrets: his passion is poisons and dark plants; in fact, he has even tested poisons on his own lovely wife and unborn child some years ago. He keeps a secret, evil, poison garden behind a locked gate.

His daughter Jessamine follows in his footsteps, learning all about plants that cure and plants that kill. She falls in love with Weed (book one, The Poison Diaries), who has run away from her in this installment. She longs for him and begs her father to tell her where he has gone.

Jessamine learns to hate her father, and once she realizes he is the one responsible for her mother's death, she wants revenge. She says:

"I am Jessamine Luxton. Poison ran in my veins before I was born. I know how to cure. And I know how to kill. I have tried for so long to be good, buth there is no need to fight my destiny anymore. I am my father's daughter, after all."

Once her evil deed is done, Jessamine must flee Northumberland. She takes passage on a stagecoach, trying to put as many miles between her and her crime. When some fellow passengers call her a witch, she must flee again. She learns to use her knowledge of poisons to make a living. Some people will pay handsomely for a poison to kill a spouse or business partner. As Jessamine slips into a life of crime, her mind is addled by opium. She still dreams of Weed and yearns for his touch. Another man is haunting her thoughts and overtaking her dreams; Oleander is the master puppeteer and encourages Jessmine to choose the dark side.

Weed in the meantime is searching for her. He hurries back to Northumberland and finds Thomas Luxton dead. He realizes that someone has poisoned him and suspects it was Jessamine. He follows her footsteps through Europe, but stops in Italy to learn more about poisons and their antidotes. Weed learns that King George himself is traveling to Italy and that some noblemen want him dead. Weed plans to attend the banquet for King George and prevent his death.

Will Weed find Jessamine in time? Can he steal her away from Oleander's evil clutches? Will Jessamine even know him through her drug haze?

Beautifully written, inspired storytelling, captivating characters, poetic prose, and magical settings make Nightshade a teen tour de force. Readers won't be able to wait to get their hands on book 3. I did not read book one and still enjoyed this book--book 2. There is enough back story for the reader to understand book 2 without reading book one.

The publishers say grade 7 and up. I must warn you that Jessamine is a fallen woman who sleeps around and does drugs--drugs that are legal at the time in Europe, but are now illegal in the U.S. She becomes a harlot and murderer. There is no sex but the savvy reader knows that Jessamine is not a "nice" girl. Even though Jessamine slips into a life of crime, readers will feel empathy for her and the love she has lost.

Watch the book trailer here

I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

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