Tuesday, 23 November 2010
I'm beginning to scare myself with how many reviews I've done in the last few days I guess it's only appropriate after posting nothing but Nanowrimo updates for half the month (I'm doing a post on what happened to *that* soonish).
Author: Maryrose Wood
Date: 20/11/2010 AM
Description: In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .
It's quite a short book so didn't take me very long to get through. At first it feels rather similar to the Alchemist's Daughter by Katherine McMahon in that the main character Jessamine is a young girl who's been raised by just her father, isolated from the outside world while he pursues a cure-all medicine made from poisonous plants in the 18th Century (c.f. Emilie who is only slightly older, raised by her father who studies alchemy in the 18th Century and keeps her tucked away in their estate). But it's there that the similarities end.
Jessamine is a very sweet and caring character although I do sympathise with her feelings of exasperation towards her father who still treats her like a child although at 16 and a very sheltered 16 at that her father is sort of right. She's not completely ignorant since she helps her father tend to the gardens and can manage a house pretty darn well for her age, but she's still very naive about the world and not highly educated (unlike Emilie in A's D). She's given the task at the start of the book to tend to some belladonna berries (*very* poisonous little buggers) so that her father can plant them in his locked garden where he keeps rare and exotic and incredibly deadly plants.
Not long into the story a rather strange boy is foisted onto Jessamine's father because he is reported to have somehow cured a bunch of mad people by putting something into their tea (the drinking sort btw). Being a botantist he's naturally very interested by this and agrees to look after the boy - Weed. At first he's very shy and stays hidden away in the coal box but Jessamine manages to coax him out and begins to feed him up. After a rather weed-like growth spurt it seems that he's actually close to her own age and not too bad-looking either :P
I found Jessamine and Weed's growth of friendship really quite nice and pleasant. Like any other young girl deprived of contact with children and especially boys of her own age, Jessamine gets rather flustered in her feelings towards Weed which isn't helped at all by his bizarre behaviour sometimes.
Without spoiling too much about the plot I shall just say that about half-way through things start to get a little weird like the story just melts into this vaguely trippy fantastical other dimension and another completely unexpected aspect appears. I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about the new developments but they definitely added a intriguing element to what was previously just a simple historical fiction novel.
Overall I did find the book very enjoyable and I believe that it is to be part of a series so I'd certainly be interested in seeing where things go after the somewhat abrupt ending. I really liked Jessamine and Weed's chemistry and the whole element of poison plants was lovely and spooky (the idea was actually thought of by the Duchess of Buckingham who owns the castle and poison garden mentioned in the book).
So if you want a quick, easy historical novel with a creepy dash of the fae then look no further!
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
There you go folks! I'm gonna try and get a review up for Dreaming Anastasia in the next couple of days, I will do a Nano-commiserations post :P and I'm also working on a discussion post about book embargoes which I'm hoping to get up before the end of the week (if it makes sense by then).