Title: An Affair of Poisons
Author: Addie Thorley (Debut)
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Release Date: February 26th 2019 by Page Street Kids
Format: Kindle ARC
Goodreads Synopsis: After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.
Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant Dauphin. Forced to hide in the derelict sewers beneath the city, any hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible—until Josse’s path collides with Mirabelle’s, and he finds a surprising ally in his sworn enemy.
She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. Together, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?
*Side Note: I changed the look of the blog this week and I hope you guys like it 🙂 Also, yesterday was the US holiday Thanksgiving, so there wasn’t a pose due to the holiday.
*I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All thoughts are my own and no quotations will be used*
So I originally saw this on NetGalley and the synopsis immediately made me click the “Request” button. I have realized that I need all of the historical fantasy type books. This one with all the mentions of poisons as well was another cool factor. I hadn’t heard any buzz about this book either, so I went in with a clean slate which really helped. And honestly, this book is creative, entertaining, fun and a very strong debut!
The first element I loved is the setting of the story. It’s set in 17th century France, which is a time I don’t know anything about. The thing that I didn’t know is that this book is an alternate take on a real event in history. There was an event called the Affair of Poisons at that time, and there was a real lady who tried to poison the king three times! She had hundreds of followers/accomplices and her daughter was a crucial part in her being arrested in the end. This setting was so cool to see how different things in the past, to how the people lived, talked and how this Shadow Society took over. There were times where I felt like I could see the sewers, poor folk in the streets or the gilded noble houses. The setting was perfectly executed.
The second element I loved was Mirabelle’s POV; you read from her and Josse’s POV who is the male, bastard son of the King. Mirabelle makes all the poisons, tonics and other curatives for her mother, thinking that the Shadow Society has good things in store for the people of Paris. But I also liked that she was level headed, tried to think of the best solutions, mostly fair and also showed great fear and insecurity that made her relatable. I liked her POV most because you saw how much she loved making all the potions and all the details to making them. Her journey also became personal, with everything going into chaos after the king is poisoned. While I like Josse’s POV fine, Mirabelle definitely was the highlight of the story.
The third element I loved were the side characters! There’s Josse’s two younger sisters Anne and Francoise, his brother Louis (actual son of the King) and Gris (Mirabelle’s assistant and friend). These side characters were fleshed out and cleverly written. Louis was especially a great side character because he just acts so much like a spoiled noble with some nice development. The strained relationship between him and Josse was a great power struggle and I liked seeing how they worked things out. Gris was also a nice person who cares for Mirabelle, but still idealizes her mother since she saved him from a terrible life. I don’t usually pay attention to side characters often, but these guys were so much fun and I think they’re memorable.
The final element I liked was how the plot progressed, especially the ending. There were a couple plot development that I didn’t predict and made it even more thrilling and exciting. Is it completely unpredictable? No, but how the author makes her characters go through so much and use their heads was fantastic. No one felt like they weren’t using their head like I have seen in some YA books. They all have pretty good heads on their shoulders and when they did make mistakes, they were under stress and I got why they did the things they did. The overall plot was just fun with all the bloody intrigue, secrets and poisons. I was never bored 🙂
As far as any cons, there are a couple tiny ones. The first one is that the middle did feel a little repetitive, but not too much that it affected my enjoyment. The second thing is that Josse did drive me a tiny bit nuts at the end with how he quickly forgave a certain thing that happened too quickly. The final thing is that some situations felt like they were written a titch too dramatic, but again, that’s a slight personal preference.
Overall: I really enjoyed this strong debut novel. From all the fun stuff I mentioned, to just enjoying every minute and always wanting to know what happened, this was a very nice surprise. If you love historical settings, books with poisons/alchemy, go request this book on NetGalley. This author is one to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next 🙂
Have you heard about this book? Have you read it and if so, did you like it as well? What books that have a historical setting and magic would you recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!