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Poison (The Poisoner Mysteries #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,242 ratings  ·  358 reviews
Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano, defying all convention becomes the official poisoner of the head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, the confidante of Lucrezia and the lover of Cesare while pursuing her father's murderer.
Paperback, 388 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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The Borgia Bride by Jeanne KalogridisMadonna of the Seven Hills by Jean PlaidyThe Family by Mario PuzoBlood & Beauty by Sarah DunantPoison by Sara Poole
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This book is probably a 2.5 star for me. I enjoyed the overall story, and the main character is very likable, but the author's writing style made it very hard for me to get through this book. I felt the flow of the story was disjointed, like one scene didn't always flow into the next. I often found myself rereading the same passage to try and figure out what was happening, only to see the author explaining what was going on a few paragraphs down. She would often make references to things that wi...more
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Poison is a novel, by an author pseudonymed “Sara Poole,” about Francesca, a young teenaged woman in 1492 Rome who is charged, due to her new vocation as professional poisoner for Cardinal Borgia, with the task of murdering Pope Innocent. That is all the synopsis I care to get into.

I couldn’t wait to be finished with this heap of absurdity so I could vent off my stream of outrage and complaints. I scarcely know where to begin. First of all,...more
Jun 29, 2010 Misfit rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Misfit by: Amazon Vine
This plot is a bit complicated so I will try to keep this summary short and sweet. Francesca Giordano is daughter to the official poisoner for Rodrigo Borgia (what a job). Her father is mysteriously bumped off, and with her eye on taking over pop's job she shows off her poisoning skills to Borgia and like that she's got the gig - and that includes finding a way to bump off Pope Innocent before he can sign an edict expelling the Jewish refugees flooding Rome after being expelled from Spain during...more
Lauren Fidler
this is exactly the type of book i needed - total smut disguised as genuine historical fiction.

poole creates an interesting depiction of 15th century rome here - all the borgias are here, natch - but while the history is authentic enough the characters all feel a bit too modern.

didn't bother me, but it might bother some.

delicious death:
1. while poole honors the history surrounding her fiction, she never becomes a slave to it. it's a fine line to dance and she does it well.
2. francesca is just ba...more
Brianna Mulligan
I went into this book expecting a duller version of Philippa Gregroy. I have little fascination with Rome and am a little disilluminated by the Catholic church. However, I was pleasantly surprised! The action packed plot and adult language were very interesting (although not usually my style.) The best part of Sara Poole's novel was her portrayal of the main character, Francesca. Rarely, even in current-day fiction, do you see independently courageous and feminist characters. Francesca held a po...more
Francesca is the fictitious “poisoner” to the very real, ruthless Borgia family, having killed to obtain the position so that she could avenge her father's death and assume his former position. The corrupt Pope Innocent VIII is ill and Cardinal Borgia intends on being his replacement. Poison might be a handy way to accomplish the goal, but it must be done without raising any suspicion against Borgia. In addition, the Jews have been run out of Spain and are being persecuted in Rome. The Pope is r...more
(1.5 stars, because to its credit it is a functioning novel with a mildly coherent narrative.)

One of my primary grievances was the antagonists. They were are all over the place. The Big Bad is the anti-Semites! No, it's Pope Innocent! No, it's (view spoiler)! No, it's (view spoiler) Because of this, it's hard to find a central conflict and the pacing suffers severely for it.

The plot is a giant...more
It seems as if author Sara Poole wanted to incorporate every word in her thesaurus into this series. I have read the first and second, and I can't bring myself to read the third. As interested as I am in historical fiction, particularly from the Borgia papacy, this book couldn't hold my interest. I don't recommend this book.
First Line:

The Spaniard died in agony. That much was evident from the contortions of his once handsome face and limbs and the black foam caking his lips. A horrible death to be sure, one only possible from the most feared of weapons: Poison

Favorite Quote:

“Have you noticed that those who murder in the thousands invariably claim divine favor while those who kill on a far more modest scale, myself included, know in our hearts that God weeps for our sins?”

My thoughts:

I know I rarely add quotes or fi...more
Robyn Hawk
The whole idea of "Poisoner" as heroine...begs the comparisons to the like-able serial killer Dexter. But in the Renaissance Era, the setting for this debut novel from Sara Poole, that is a legitimate profession.

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance begins as our heroine, Francesca Giordano, takes over her father's job as head poisoner for the Borgia family (YES - those Borgias'). Cardinal Borgia wants to become pope, so this could be a deadly position that Francesca finds herself in. With her fat...more
You know, I'm not the greatest fan of historical fiction. The genre itself always seems sort of dry to me, so I didn't come to this book bearing a lot of expectations. I only picked it out because of its beautiful cover.

The beginning of this book was a bit dry and difficult to read by virtue of the background information and set up that the author was putting into place. But soon enough after the plot began to kick in and I found myself strangely drawn to it. I loved that this novel takes place...more
Historical fiction/suspense set in the late 15th century. I'm a little rusty on my late 15th century history, but I always found in fascinating in school, especially the parts about the church and it's corrupt members. I'm not sure how much of this is historical, and how much is fiction, but at least the main characters were real people. The story centers on Francesa, the poisoner, and her attempts to keep Rodrigo Borgia in the running for Pope, while also trying to protect the Jews from a mass...more
Tara Chevrestt
"Before the Tudors, there were the Borgias." Um, where are they? They really weren't in this book all that much to make that claim...

Anyways, this novel is about and told from the viewpoint of Francesca. Her father was the Cardinal Borgia's poisoner. Upon her father's death, Francesca not only vows to exact revenge on his murderers but she also kills the competition for the poisoner job and SHE becomes the Cardinal's right hand poisoner and security expert you could say. Very strong heroine. She...more
I truly wanted to give this book 5 stars, but it ended up more like 3.5. Poole's writing is both intriguing and annoying. Throughout the book the main character will be describing detail or involved in conversation and then suddenly, there will be a break in the flow during which time the narrator draws attention to the reader. I like to immerse myself and become lost in the world of the story, but could not because of all the interruptions of the narrator.

I also find that Francesca, the title...more
I was intrigued to find a novel with a poisoner as the heroine. The book follows Francesca Giordano as she assumes the role of head poisoner for the Borgias family after her father is murdered. Simply put it was a struggle to get through this book, there were many times I just wanted to put it down and be done with it. I found it was choppy and didn’t flow very well in the way it was written. There were parts in book where it seemed the author would go on and on in detail about something that I...more
Je ne me suis pas du tout ennuyée en lisant ce livre, qui mêle à la fois politique, religion, complot, famille, devoir... Plein de sentiments se mêlent à la lecture et ce n'est pas pour déplaire. Francesca est la nouvelle empoisonneuse de la famille Borgia, elle reprend la place de son père, et tente de venger sa mort et de comprendre qui l'a assassiné. C'est l'intrigue principale du livre, mais d'autres viennent s'ajouter à celle-ci. Le père de la famille Borgia (connue pour être la première fa...more
Kate Quinn
A debut novel, and what an accomplished one. Sara Poole's "Poison" tells the story of Francesca, a young woman of Renaissance Rome who wants to take over her father's job and find his murderers. His job? Poisoner in the household of the wily, intelligent, and sensual Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. Francesca wins the job by poisoning her father's successor, and calmly explaining to the bemused Cardinal how she did it - and I knew this was no ordinary heroine. There is plenty of excitement as Francesca...more
I've said many a time before that I am thoroughly enamored of the Italian Renaissance. It's one of my favorite periods in history - among many, to be sure, but this is one particular time period in which my interest borders on the obsessive. I will read as much about it as I can get my hands on; I will watch movies, TV shows, and documentaries set in the period; I will even look for traces of it in the fiction I read. However, while my interest in the period is broad enough to span almost its en...more
With the overly crowded sea of Tudor fiction out there, it's refreshing to see something just a little different. Newcomer Sara Poole takes on the deadly Borgias, an Italian Renaissance dynasty that ruled in Rome, primarily through their papal connections. The Borgias, though not often explored in fiction, offer a fertile ground of murder, intrigue, sex, lies, incest and all kinds of juicy things for authors to explore. It's the perfect backdrop for a soap opera complete with cutthroat power gam...more
Well damn, that was intense! It certainly helped listening to the epic soundtrack music from Two Steps from Hell to put this novel in proper perspective. Nothing like huge orchestrals and latin chants by massive choirs. Seriously, this book easily lends itself to miniseries material.

Long before Netflix, there was the original BBC version of House of Cards. The reason I mention this is because Francesca, our intrepid poisoner, reminds me a little of the dastardly (yet darkly hilarious) Francis Ur...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
"The Spaniard died in agony. That much was evident from the contortions of his once handsome face and limbs and the black foam caking his lips. A horrible death to be sure, one only possible from that most feared of weapons.


What an opening to a page-turner of a book! Especially when the protagonist, Francesca Giordano, immediately admits that she's the one who killed him.

Francesca's father was Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia's poisoner. When he dies, Francesca vows to have her revenge, and the...more
Mar 17, 2013 Ms.pegasus rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in fast-paced historical fiction with an emphasis on plot
Shelves: fiction, history, thriller
Poison … ivy? ...oak? Poisoner …. Add the word 'Renaissance', and it could only be the Borgias! But there's a twist. The poisoner is not one of the Borgias. Her name is Francesca Giordano. She is the daughter of Rodrigo Borgias' late servant, whose job it was to protect the household from would-be poisoners, as well as to effect, on command, the poisoning of Rodrigo's enemies. The year is 1492 and Francesca has surprised not only Rodrigo Borgia, but the reader as well. She is introduced to us as...more
I was impressed with this, a first in a trilogy, historical fiction novel that seemed like a cross between "The Da Vinci Code"; "Poison Study"; and one of Philippa Gregory's books (maybe even a little Indiana Jones too)!
The heroine, Francesca, is a poisoner for the powerful Borgia household in 15th century Italy - responsible for the protection of the Borgia Cardinal, and also acts as his "hitman". With the Cardinal being in the running for the papacy, danger is everywhere.
Bent on revenge for...more
Jaclyn Day
I’m usually a huge historical fiction fan, but this book severely tested me. To be fair, the only reason I downloaded it on my Kindle is because I was in the mood for historical fiction and this was a bargain at $3. I should have known, right?

For a novel about the rise of the Borgias in Renaissance Rome, this book fell completely flat. It’s mindblowingly slow and boring. I can’t even express to you just how utterly boring it was. I haven’t even finished it. I’m about 30 minutes of reading away f...more
Monica Williams
I have to admit I do like a good historical mystery. This series caught my eye since I read a review for book #3 and it sounded promising. As with any series I always want to start with book 1. The story is set in Renaissance Italy in the home of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. The heroine Francesca is the daughter of Cardinal Borgia's master poisoner. (Every good household had one at that time.) Francesca has been taught her father's trade and works in his stead after he had been brutally murdered. Fr...more
Kate Forsyth
‘The Spaniard died in agony. That much was evident from the contortions of his once handsome face and limbs and the black foam caking his lips. A horrible death to be sure, one only possible from that most feared of weapons.

What a great opening to what proved to be a real page-turner of a novel. The book’s heroine, a young woman named Francesca Giordano, kills a man to prove that she is the better poisoner. Her reward is to become the official poisoner of Rodrigo Borgia, during his dange...more
2.5 stars. I *so* wanted to like this book! The writing was sometimes really good (especially in the beginning), and at other times really boring. I never really warmed up to the main character Francesca --- she's often indifferent and uncaring, and sometimes naive to the point of stupidity.

I didn't find it very believable that this girl --- who is a poisoner for Cardinal (later Pope) Borgia and who knows that you can't really trust anyone --- would trust someone she's only just met (literally...more
If only I could add a half star. Let me preface this review by saying, this is not a bad book. It just wasn't what I was expecting and the plot was a bit predictable. As this is the first in a series, I would imagine that character development will continue in the coming books. However, I was not in love with the main character and that just threw off the rest of the book. The author made her out to be very superficial and not all that likable. You get glimpses there is more to her at the end, b...more
Overall, I liked this book. The basic premise is that Francesca is the poisoners daughter. Her father worked for the Borgias for years and she grew up in their household. She learns her fathers trade, and when he is suddenly murdered, she proves herself to Borgia by poisoning the Spaniard that was meant to take her father's place. She gets the job, and is then thrown into various plots and intrigues. I felt there was a disconnect with Francesca though--she seemed cold and distant, but then, I su...more
This book was interesting from a historical perspective as the plot is intertwined with the Borgia family and I didn't know too much about them. It is fast-paced with plenty of plot twists. The writing is not bad, but it's no masterpiece. The main character, a female official "poisoner" for Cardinal Borgia also intrigued me and it was fun learning about that aspect of this historical period. At times, though, she behaves and thinks too much like a modern woman, a little hard to believe. Bottom l...more
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Sara Poole is the pen name of a NY Times bestselling author who is branching out to write historical novels.
Her long-time fascination with Renaissance Italy and with the Borgias in particular has led her in this new direction. It corresponds nicely with her interest in botany as especially regards the poisonous plants flourishing all around us. Sara lives in the Northeast with her husband and a m...more
More about Sara Poole...
The Borgia Betrayal (The Poisoner Mysteries, #2) The Borgia Mistress (The Poisoner Mysteries, #3) Brel and Chanson: A Critical Appreciation

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“We have all made mistakes, each and every one of us. The trick is to not keep making them over and over.” “I don’t,” I said, not modestly but truthfully. “I keep finding new mistakes to make. I suspect that I have a genius for it.” 21 likes
“We have all made mistakes, each and every one of us. The trick is to not keep making them over and over.” 12 likes
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