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Poison Kiss (Earthside Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B018JOICT4
- Publisher : Acacia Moon Publishing; 7th edition (November 25, 2015)
- Publication date : November 25, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 2048 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 258 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,708 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is a book that focuses on how survivors band together to create queer chosen family, and it felt both lovely and complicated, the way chosen family often does. The characterization was lovely and complicated, as was the way magic works in the story. I really fell for & felt for a lot of these characters, both central and less central, who were complicated and messy and struggling and sometimes quite rude, grumpy and self centered.
This is a deeply queer & deeply poly story and that was built in to every aspect of it in a way that I liked quite a bit. There is a queer triad in the story, and there are some lovely moments with that. There are a few very clearly marked non binary characters, which is another thing I like about this story, how much their gender was marked, but otherwise not a thing in the story, just part of who they were. The book generally treated identities in this way, and it worked really well I thought.
I liked how the characters in the story were thinking about and grappling with consent in a complex way, and really cared about magical influence and other sticky things when they were considering it.
I want to think more about the ways metaphor worked in the story; being tainted was a big thing, and I want to think more about what that meant, especially with regard to trauma and queerness. So I may amend this review once I’ve given that more thought.
I had some trouble with one aspect of the story. <spoiler> There are two queer women who are into each other and know that they both are into each other yet they do not either talk about it or try to figure out how they might have sex (there is a magical obstacle, that’s pretty easy to work around). Instead, the sex doesn’t even come up until a third partner shows up, who is a man. I would buy this if it were part of a story arc around trauma recovery or being in shock or not knowing that the other reciprocates their feelings, but it is pretty clearly not. As far as the text of the story goes, they just…can’t figure out how to have sex? Which I found really difficult to buy; it just didn’t make sense, especially given the frank way that many of the other characters talked about sex around them. Why had they not even tried to work around this issue? It felt like it was stuck in this idea about poly that all the partners need to get together at the same time. Also, stuck in a sexual script that you do sexual things in a particular order and if you can’t do the first thing you can’t do anything at all. I was particularly troubled by the story working this way because it falls into the thing where two women can’t figure out what to do in bed until a man comes along to join them.</spoiler>
Overall, I was able to overlook this issue and still really enjoy many things about this book.
Trigger Warnings: <spoiler> depiction of PTSD & depression, complex situations around consent and magical influence, sexual coercion, several battle scenes that include grave injury and death, descriptions of magical assassination, child in peril, detailed descriptions of characters treated like objects by others in positions of power.</spoiler>
Fortunately, most of the book takes place "Earthside", although there is always the specter of being recaptured, and that specter is brutal and terrifying in a way that merely being threatened with death is not. The entire cast consists of people who survived faery enslavement, and everyone feels convincingly like a trauma and abuse survivor. This is well-handled: I didn't feel like the story was wallowing in it or trying to traumatize me as the reader, but I could completely relate to their fears and coping mechanisms.
Some of why the faery world is so grim is revealed over the course of the story, and is fascinating itself.
I am not a big fan of "brutal and terrifying magical world", as anyone who's read my work can probably guess. The fantasy plot was solid and well done, with the resolution of various arcs surprising yet logical.
The characters are loveable; I found the choice to make the male protagonist a naïf charming: it's a part men rarely get to play. And he is adorable and sweet, if less well-established than the other characters.
This is a love-at-first sight book: the three protagonists form into a happy triad within two or three days of first meeting their third. I am not a big fan of love-at-first sight, but that aside, they make a lovely, supportive triad and I enjoyed the HEA. Delightful!
Top reviews from other countries
Rose and Lavender are enslaved by the May Queen, just two of many humans who have been abducted and taken to the faery world, altered to play parts in the cruel entertainments devised by the faeries. They don't remember their previous lives on Earth, but tiny fragments of memory -- and a huge amount of willpower -- might just be enough to get them home. Arriving Earthside isn't the end of their problems, though. It doesn't bring the memories back. And dangerous portals to the faery world keep opening up around them.
In truth I would give this book a 4.5 (but I believe in rounding up) - while I didn't have a concern about plot pacing, I was a little unsure of the pacing of the relationship. There was a (plot justified) time skip that pushed me a little off balance in terms of how two characters interacted, and a romantic attraction felt very sudden and unclear, but by the end I was routing for all of them.
There were several minor characters I would have loved to see more of, but you can only fit so much in a book - not a criticism, but a commendation of how believable the characters were!
Rose, a human from Earth, has been captured by an Otherworld faery known as the May Queen who has erased her conscious memories and magically altered her body. She is a Nightshade whose lips contain a deadly poison and her mistress assigns her to seduce and kiss those whom she wants killed. Rose has been feeling increasingly ill at ease with her role when she gets talking to Lavender, a fellow human altered to become a Fragrant, whose emotions cause her to release various plant scents which affect the minds of those around her. The pair contrive to escape to Earthside, where they start to recover from their traumatic experiences in the Otherworld, get to know other Altereds and learn more about the faeries, as well as about their own lives prior to capture. Although they may have escaped the Otherworld for the time being, it becomes apparent that its inhabitants are not going to leave them alone. They have also retained their magical powers. When they become aware of an opportunity to be relieved of these, they also learn of compelling reasons to retain them.
The story develops at a fast pace and the action is compelling. A central theme is a perfectly balanced three-way relationship, heavenly for a bisexual woman. While the romance progresses rather rapidly, there is an explanation for this which fits in with the story's themes and is deftly incorporated into the narrative. The sex scene is well executed.
Sometimes the plot was even a bit too action packed and I found myself joining the characters in thinking "Oh no, not again!" every time another patch of mist appeared. However, I like the way the characters develop with every crisis, with more revealed about them and the faeries, and an opportunity to play a stronger and more autonomous role at each turn. At times the conversation between the characters when new phenomena and understandings have come to light becomes a little dry and technical, important though the information is. Yet I would somehow prefer to work things out for myself rather than getting the impression that a character is standing in front of me with a flow chart and pointer ...
The book is fascinating when it gets going; unfortunately the opening chapters are the weakest. They contain an alluring description of a world and were good enough for me to keep reading of course, but in those chapters in particular, the writing displays some redundancy that could be pruned and some cliches that could be weeded out. Information that turns out to be critical is presented in a strange, illogical order - I believe this could easily be fixed, though. It is challenging to represent the point of view of someone suffering from amnesia and the author pulls this off to some extent, though not entirely. It is not clear how Rose can be so sure, without conscious memories, that two moons with erratic courses are not the norm. (And especially since the sunlight here is not bright enough to tan - an intriguing touch and important for Rose's escape - is it really possible to see the colours of flower petals by moonlight??) Someone without conscious memories might still dream about their previous life, something that is not mentioned. Without conscious knowledge of any life other than that of the May Queen's servant, Rose remains able to articulate to herself that she is a "murderer" and feels guilt - yet it is not clear what her points of reference informing her judgement on her own situation could be. Unfortunately, the loss of a sense of right and wrong is common in individuals subjected to mind control, even without the benefit of memory erasure by magic - especially where people are exhausted and fighting to survive, as is the case with Rose. It somehow doesn't ring true that she would have enough self-awareness to have a conscience in such circumstances. I think the narrative would reach deeper levels if these aspects were considered more carefully.
The action builds to a potent and surprising climax, with a satisfying resolution for the time being, though there is clearly more to follow. The Epilogue was superfluous - I had figured out most of the information contained therein and would have preferred it left at the level of interpretation rather than having it spelled out to me.
There is rather a crowd of characters crammed into a short book, though they are well managed and everything is clear.
I look forward to reading more in this series. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal fantasy and who appreciates non-stereotyped romance.
Looking foward to the next book.