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The Poison Diaries Paperback – June 21, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up–Readers will be intrigued by both the romance and complex moral questions in this fantasy set in late-18th-century England. Jessamine, 16, lives with her apothecary father, Thomas Luxton, in the remote countryside near Alnwick Castle. As she keeps house and tends to the gardens, there is one place she is forbidden to go: only her father enters the locked apothecary garden where he nurtures poisonous plants collected from all over the world. Their pastoral existence is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Weed, a straggly teenage orphan who has an inexplicable knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants. As romance blossoms between Jessamine and Weed, she discovers that he is able to communicate with all growing things. Luxton begins to crave Weed's know-how and allows him into the apothecary garden, where the teen is made physically ill by the overwhelmingly evil personalities of the poisonous blooms. What begins that day propels the three characters into a tangled web of passion, betrayal, and the supernatural influence of the Prince of Poison. The novel explores the nature of good and evil and the consequences of choices whatever their intentions. As Luxton's explanation foreshadows, a plant that can kill used in one way can heal used in another. Told mostly in Jessamine's voice, the story has a compelling sense of urgency and mystery even as climactic events become too melodramatic. The book is based on a concept by the current Duchess of Northumberland who created the real Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle.–Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MIα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Jessamine is skilled at growing plants, but her apothecary father won't allow her into his locked garden of poisonous specimens for fear that she will come to harm. Then Weed, an orphan with a mysterious gift with plants, is left with the family, and things take a strange turn at the peaceful cottage. This intriguing fantasy has many tendrils to wrap around teen hearts: there is the budding romance between Jessamine and Weed, a grave illness that threatens Jessamine's life, Weed's supernatural skills, a series of chilling folklore-worthy tests of Weed's love, and encounters with Oleander, a figure who enters Jessamine's fevered dreams and implores her to abandon Weed and join him in death. The haunting ending will leave readers wanting to talk about the themes of cruelty, honesty, and loyalty. The setting is the area near Alnwick Castle in England, the real home of the Duchess of Northumberland, who has established her very own Poison Garden, and where (savvy fans may know) the scenes at Hogwarts were filmed in the Harry Potter movie series. Grades 8-11. --Cindy Dobrez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Poison Diaries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061802387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061802386
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,999,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Happy howls to you! I hope you enjoy THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE books. The latest installment in this six book-series is book 5, The Unmapped Sea.

To learn more about me or request a school visit, go to www.maryrosewood.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Poison Diaries tells the story of young Jessamine, an innocent young woman who has spent her entire life isolated from the world in her father's cottage with little else beside her garden to keep her company. Jessamine's father is the local healer, a master of herbal cures and poisons concocted from plants. When Weed, a mysterious young man who claims he can talk to plants, comes to live with Jessamine and her father, an expected romance blooms between the two. However, after Jessamine falls ill, it's up to Weed to use his knowledge of poisons, and his supernatural skills, to save her.

This novel is pretty much summed in the above paragraph -it's incredibly simple and well, certainly not too original. The basic plot is a romance turned into a "save the girl" scenario, which I found to be boring and well, not quite what I expected after I read the summary. I guess I was hoping for a heroine who is not quite such a damsel in distress, but instead Jessamine is very passive and fairly uninteresting. Plus, near the end of the novel the story shifts to focus more on Weed than on Jessamine.

That brings me to another issue I had with this novel. The action is incredibly uneven and there is virtually no conflict for the majority of the story. For about the first 200 pages readers learn about the growing romance between Jessamine and Weed with virtually no conflict until there is one tiny blurb of concern with the father -which is quickly waved away barely 10 pages later.

The last seventy-ish pages of the book is where things final start to get interesting. The point of view, which had been first-person through the eyes of Jessamine to this point, suddenly shifts to first-person through the eyes of Weed, which is confusing and jarring to the reader.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sixteen-year-old Jessamine Luxton lost her mother when she was only four and has lived her entire life with her distant, cold father in a "cottage" on the estate of the Duke of Northumberland. Her home is, in fact, an ancient stone chapel that sits next to the ruins of an abbey destroyed presumably during the era of Cromwell when Catholics were hunted down or driven out of England. Her father, Thomas Luxton, works for the Duke as an apothecary. He cares for the Duke's sick family and employees and in his spare time obsessively studies the properties of medicinal herbs, particularly plants that are known to be deadly poison. Thomas keeps an exotic collection of these plants in a walled, padlocked area Jessamine calls his poison garden.

Jessamine begs her father to let her help him with either his healing work or his poison garden, but he insists the former is too gruesome and the latter too dangerous. Instead, he relegates her to being his housekeeper, which involves maintaining three gardens of her own, for vegetables, herbs and dye plants, as well as sewing, cooking, cleaning, and caring for their small collection of farm animals. Her father is often gone for days at a time treating sick people, and when he is home he rarely talks to her, to the point that Jessamine worries that she has forgotten how to speak. Then one day Tobias Pratt, the owner of the local madhouse, shows up and insists Thomas take charge of an odd orphan named Weed who appears to be about Jessamine's age. Pratt claims Weed has cured so many of the mentally ill in his keeping with herbal teas that his asylum is almost empty. He says that while Weed is putting him out of business, he'd be a welcome help to a healer like Thomas.
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6 Comments 15 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Maryrose Wood and her first series that began with Why I Let My Hair Grow Out , a funny YA series that has been very popular in my library. The author's latest release, The Poison Diaries is a definite departure from her early teen offerings and delves into historical fiction with the help of The Duchess of Northumberland who is the current resident at Alnwick Castle (a trivia note here that Alnwick Castle is the castle used in the Harry Potter movies as Hogwarts.) The Duchess has grown one of the worlds largest and most beautiful gardens at Alnwick Castle and it includes a poison garden which was the inspiration for this book. Read more about the garden HERE.

The setting for the story is a cottage near Alnwick Castle and is told mainly by Jessamine Luxson whose life revolves around her apothecary father and his forbidden poison garden. When the mysterious orphan Weed enters her somewhat lonely and uneventful life, everything changes. Weed has a special ability when it comes plants and Jessamine is drawn to him. A black cloud seems to hang over their developing romance in the form of Jessamine's father who is determined to use Weed for his own ambitions.

When Jessamine mysteriously falls ill, Weed is determined to find a cure but must battle for his love with with the Oleander plant, the prince of the poison garden who visits Jessamine in her dreams and entices to let go of life and join him in her death. The mystery of who is behind Jessamine's illness, Weed's mysterious past, the star-crossed lovers and the eventual love triangle create the setting for a gripping YA Gothic Romance.

The first in a project trilogy, The Poison Diaries is sure to please lovers of historical fiction, fantasy and fans of the tragic love story. Appropriate for ages 12 and up.
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