Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Why Read?: Review
Challenges: Horror & Urban Fantasy, iChallenge
The YA market is currently oversaturated with dark fantasies. In order to stand out, an author has to have a very unique concept. That is exactly what Maryrose Wood, with the help of The Duchess of Northumberland, has with The Poison Diaries trilogy. The first book in the series was a gothic tale of love, plants, and a startling revelations. Nightshade, the middle book of the trilogy, takes an even darker turn, adding murder and political intrigue to the mix.
After recovering from her illness, Jessamine Luxton wakes to find her betrothed, Weed, has fled. Depressed, she goes about her day working as a healer and trying to avoid the voice of Oleander, the Prince of Poisons, in her head. However, it is with his help that she discovers the cause of her illness and her mother’s death. Enraged, Jessamine sets out to poison her father, and ends up killing another man in the process. Now she must disguise herself and flee Northumberland with only Oleander to guide her. Shortly after she leaves, Weed comes back for her only to surmise what she had done. With the plants in England too scared of the prince to tell Weed where Jessamine is, he travels to Italy, to the Orto botanico, the oldest garden. There he falls under the tutaledge of Signora Baglioni, the gardener, a wise and trust-worthy woman interested in Weed’s gift of talking to the plants. But while Weed is bettering himself, Jessamine is falling further under Oleander’s power, possibly past the point of no return.
While The Poison Diaries was dark mostly in an atmospheric sense, Nightshade was dark all around. Jessamine’s life starts off dim and gets darker and darker as she progresses through the blonde healer Jessamine, the auburn embroidery and cosmetics merchant, to the raven-haired poison dealer. Weed’s life, on the other hand, seems to lighten a little once he reaches the Orto botanica and is able to learn more about how to use his gift for good. However, through it all, he still carries the burden of his murderous transgression along with the worry of loosing Jessamine to Oleander. These emotions make for tense, fast-paced reading.
Nightshade was a good I simply could not put down. Maryrose Wood shows great prowess as a storyteller in all aspects of writing. I simply cannot wait to see how The Poison Diaries trilogy ends.