Review: This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

You’re some kind of actual Black girl magic.


Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Take Strange Horticulture, put it in the framework of a Nancy Drew game, mix in a bunch of Greek mythology, and voila, you have this masterpiece.

I stayed up way too late reading this book, and once I finished I immediately started the sequel. The plant and magic aesthetics are wonderful, the characters are fun, and the pacing is perfect. The author balances light with serious and builds tiny details into a larger picture in exciting and unexpected ways.

It was satisfying to follow Briseis as she explored the house and her abilities, heightening my curiosity to find out what would happen. I adore the world the author built and honestly kind of want to live in Rhinebeck. This book is perfect for those who love mystery, magic, mythology, apothecaries and plants, and old houses with secrets.

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