I requested an arc of An Affair of Poisons from NetGalley & the publisher for review. One of my dear bookstagram friends beautifullybooksy was reading it a few months ago, and it definitely piqued my interest! I don’t read a lot of historical fiction/fantasy, but I am so glad I gave this one a try.
Click here for the Synopsis!
After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge. Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant Dauphin. Forced to hide in the derelict sewers beneath the city, any hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible—until Josse’s path collides with Mirabelle’s, and he finds a surprising ally in his sworn enemy. She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. Together, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?
There are a few other YA novels focused on poisoners that I just love. The Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake is the first one that comes to mind. There are some similarities between plague and poisoner stories that I enjoy. Both tend to involve some kind of unexpected illness, or impending death around every turn. I certainly don’t enjoy stories that overuse character deaths for shock value, but it is so compelling when it’s done well! I really did enjoy the role of poisoner science, and alchemy in Affair. I thought it was compelling, though I did want a bit more of it. I could have done with about 75 more pages of Mira riddles out the mysteries of alchemy in her laboratory!
There are some excellent character dynamics happening in this book. The 2 primary characters, Josse & Mira, each have their own group of people they care for. Josse has a strong bond with his sisters and has to deal with a tempestuous relationship with his brother. Mira’s mother is nothing short of horrid to her, but she has a good friend and lab partner who she relies on. A lot of her story focuses on Mira escaping from an oppressive home life. I really enjoyed the side characters as well. A lot of them had their own little moments to shine and aid the primary plot line.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a lean toward fantasy. There are certainly fantastical elements. Addie Thorley draws on the elements of fortune telling, and the real-life poisonings that occurred throughout the book. She extends those elements into complex poisons/curative, and even smoke monsters that terrorize the streets of Paris. There’s plenty of royal drama, and a strong revolutionary storyline too. I think a lot of readers will fall in love with Josse and Mira.
An Affair of Poisons will be in bookstores on February 26th!