Friday, September 30, 2016

Me on A Little Taste of Poison

Title: A Little Taste of Poison
Author: R.J. Anderson
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster imprint)

The city of Tarreton is powered by magic, from simple tablets that light lamps to advanced Sagery that can murder a man from afar. Isaveth has a talent for spell-making, but as a girl from a poor neighborhood she never dreamed she could study at the most exclusive magical school in the city. So when she's offered a chance to attend, she eagerly accepts. The school is wonderful, but old and new enemies confront Isaveth at every turn, and she begins to suspect her scholarship might be more a trap than a gift. Even her secret meetings with Esmond, her best friend and partner in crime-solving, prove risky—especially once he hatches a plan to sneak her into the biggest society event of the season. It's their last chance to catch the corrupt politician who once framed her father for murder. How can Isaveth refuse?

A Little Taste of Poison is utterly magical and mysterious, captivating and charming. It's a story of intrigue, of family and faith, of struggle. A story of righting wrongs and helping friends. Of revealing the truth, no matter how dangerous it is.

Isaveth is a wonderful heroine. Ingenious and compassionate. Loyal and trusting. Curious and inquisitive. Her and her family have struggled for years and she's learned to be cautious when it comes to gifts. Especially when it comes to the upper class of Tarreton. But this scholarship, this chance to learn more about magic, to learn about Sagery along with what she already knows about Common Magic? It's hard for her to resist. It also means she can continue her investigating with Esmond, the one-eyed boy formerly known as Quiz. Isaveth can't not ask questions, she can't let things go by when it comes to people in charge abusing their power, treating families like Isaveth's, poor families, Moshite families, like they're less than them. But when those in charge are willing to do anything to get their way? It's hard for Isaveth to keep pushing.

And Esmond! We get more glimpses of his family life, the life he was running from when he first met Isaveth in the first book. It's not a happy life. It's privileged, it's fancy, but it's cold and unforgiving. It's a strict set of rules that Esmond doesn't necessarily agree with. It's a father who would rather drink and a brother with dangerous plans and powerful accomplices. He has to be careful if he wants to reveal the truth of his brother to the city, because Eryx isn't stupid when it comes to hiding his tracks.

In the first book, we only saw so much of Tarreton, of the city that Isaveth and Esmond race through before time runs out. Now we see more, like Tarreton College and its students, some of whom aren't completely stuck up and pretentious. We see more of Esmond's house and the figures that inhabit it. But the familiar things are still there, like Isaveth's house on Cabbage Street, like her father and her sisters. Like the supportive Moshite community.

As with the first book, this covers all manner of important and current ideas and topics. The class divide. Wealth and poverty. Privilege. Religion. Politics. It's so layered, from family disagreements to classroom bullies to political intrigue, all in a story about a young girl learning magic and solving mysteries with her best friend. I found this book and its heroine to be charming and honest, insightful and powerful. A must-read.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

No comments:

Post a Comment