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The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories Paperback – March 22, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this collection of short stories, all save two have been previously published in various similarly named high-profile fantasy anthologies: The Restless Dead (2007), The Faery Reel (2007), and The Eternal Kiss (2009). Here, they’re brought together to present a multifaceted view of one of YA-dom’s most prominent urban fantasists. Cults of immortality seekers clamor to get bitten by vampires in “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” and a teenager makes a chilling sacrifice to save a neighbor and the boy she thinks she loves. Ever mindful that forbidden romance is a natural waltzing partner with dark fantasy, Black slips a sly coming-out element into “In Vodka Veritas,” where a secret private-school sect turns prom night into a Dionysian frenzy. To close out the volume, Black performs a neat bit of tinkering with structure in the title story, as a king reveals to his son and would-be poisoner an ingenious and surreal plot to exact revenge through a trio of venomous-to-the-touch sisters. Fans of her novels will relish this one-stop resource for Black’s dark, edgy, and imaginative storytelling. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Black’s first story collection assures her place as a modern fantasy master…. Sly humor, vivid characters, each word perfectly chosen: These stories deserve reading again and again.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Black (the Good Neighbors series) proves equally adept at urban fantasy and more traditional fairy tales, and her stories often feature the edgy sexuality and angst that have become her trademarks.”
Publishers Weekly

"Black's got all the supernatural bases covered: vampires, fairies, an elf, a unicorn, wolves, the devil, and a spell-wielding high school Latin club.... Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings."
School Library Journal

"Compelling, rich and engaging."
Bulletin of Ctr for Child Books

"Gritty, grim, and fabulous—Holly is a master of dark magic and dark reality!"
—Tamora Pierce (author of Bloodhound)

"Holly Black is the Real Thing: a gifted writer with a solid grounding in what matters. Her stories are dark and splendid blooms rising from roots sunk deep in myth and tradition."
—Ellen Kushner (author of The Privilege of the Sword)

"Simply put, Holly Black is one of our best writers. Enchanting and edgy, yes, but it's the big heart in her stories that brings me back to her writing, time and again. Reading a new book by Holly is like meeting up with an old friend. They might be a little messed up from the last time you saw them, they might have some serious drama going on in their lives, but the connection is immediate, and when they're packing up to head off again, you don't want to let them go."
—Charles de Lint (author of The Blue Girl)

Praise for Holly Black’s books:

“Black’s series [is] considered to have kick-started the fairy trend in young adult fantasy.”
New York Times Book Review

"Black has an eye for the telling detail that brings the most minor character to life."
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Dark, edgy, beautifully written, and compulsively readable, this is sure to be a word-of-mouth hit with teens, even a few usually unmoved by magic and monsters."
Booklist
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442412321
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442412323
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful collection of short stories by Holly Black. The stories span everything from faeries to a girl challenging the devil to an eating contest. Holly Black's diversity as an author, and her skill, is exceedingly pleasurable to encounter. One of her characters states: "It was readers that needed to be protected, he thought. Books were something that happened to readers. Readers were the victims of books." If that is truly the case, this is a great book by which to be victimized.

The collection of stories includes:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
A Reversal of Fortune
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Night Market
The Dog King
Virgin
In Vodka Veritas
The Coat of Stars
Paper Cuts Scissors
Going Inside
The Land of Heart's Desire
The Poison Eaters

Most of these stories were previously published, but there are two new stories specifically crafted for this collection. These stories have an extremely dark edge and yet a poetic and often amazing sense of what it is to be human, and an assessment of humanity. If readers can be victimized by books, then they will be by this one. It will be an addiction that they cannot put down and one that will leave them wanting another fix.
Exquisit
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't blown away by any of the stories in this book, and I don't think they'll make me want to search out the author's other works. Some were entertaining and creepy and thought provoking, and fans of Holly Black or urban fantasy in general would probably find something to like.

However, if things like typos, extra words, tense switches, and stories that can't keep their characters' names straight from one paragraph to the next drive you crazy, you might want to give this one a pass. I don't think I've ever seen such bad editing, even in some of the self-published books I've read. It's even less forgivable since this is a compilation of previously published stories. It looks like nobody could be bothered to give the book a basic once-over before it went to press. That's a shame, because it makes me think the publisher doesn't care... and if they don't care enough to do a basic edit to fix the mistakes, why should I care enough to give them my money?
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Format: Paperback
It has been a while since I read something from Holly Black and now it seems my shelves are brimming. I have White Cat, Red Glove and I just finished Poison Eaters. It is so easy to shift back into Black's unusual quirky writings and I loved Poison Eaters. These stories featured some of my favorite characters from Black's cannon such as Roiben! Other stories I haven't seen before such as Coldtown and The Dog King. I have been in the middle of a huge reading slump for a few weeks but Black's short story collection pulled me back from the abyss. I will quickly go through each of the twelve stories in a few sentences.

--The Coldest Girl in Coldtown:
I loved this story, Coldtown is exactly the kind of place I do not want near and this story puts the scary back in vampire lore. It's not Edward waiting for you on the other side doll, it's a kick ass vamp who will lie to you this way and that for your blood.

--A Reversal of Fortune:
Oh how I wouldn't love to have an eating contest with the devil, however I am almost positive that I wouldn't have the luck or ingenuity of Nikki. Little Boo, I loved you!

--The Boy Who Cried Wolf:
This story reminds me to not take everything I read in books seriously and sometimes a great curiosity is better left alone rather than investigated.

--The Night Market:
Easily one of my favorites in this book, and it is darn hard to pick a favorite. I loved the fae in this story and I loved Black's vivid descriptions of the night market.

--The Dog King:
Take it from me kiddies this is not the one to read right before bed. It is super scary stuff and fantastically filled with lore. By far my most favorite of this collection.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't realize this was AYA lit when I bought it. That fact was evident once I began reading the first story. That said, the stories are well-written, and seem very well suited to a mature and diverse AYA audience. The stories blend dark fantasy with the kinds of issues teens are likely to struggle with: family drama, homosexuality, acceptance by society and peers, loss of loved ones.

I teach at the high school level and am now considering using one of Black's stories in my classroom.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vampires, fairies, and ghosts are just a few of the subjects Black covers in this terrifically written collection of short stories. But she does not follow the traditional trajectory of these well used subjects, she turns them on their head. In her first short, "The Coldest Girl in ColdTown" she doesn't make vampirism seem glamorous or sexy, in fact she makes it terrifying which it definitely is. In fact it's about a girl who is desperately trying to not become a vampire even though she has been bitten. In the second story "A Reversal of Fortune" it's about a girl who lives in a trailer park and has found an abused pit bull who gets injured and how she makes a pact with the devil to save her dog. The third story is the weakest "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" about a boy and his family who go on a sailing trip and he finds flowers that turn people into wolves. The next story is entitled "The Night Market" about 2 sisters and one who gets cursed by an elf and the lengths the other sister goes to to save her.

In the fifth story "The Dog King" is about castles and dangerous wolves who attack whole towns in packs and a King and a mysterious boy who lives in the castle. The next story "Virgin" is about kids who live on the streets and how one boy lives in the woods and says a unicorn is in this woods where he lives. The next story "In Vodka Veritas" is about a prep school where 2 not so popular boys are worried about who to take the prom, when one of them gets a date and the other doesn't. The one without a date wanders into the Latin Club having a secret meeting and gets sucked into it and it's very interesting what happens when the Latin Club goes to the prom and spikes everyone's drinks. A very entertaining story.
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