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A Fierce and Subtle Poison

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,149 ratings  ·  488 reviews
Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with h
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers
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17-year-old Lucas has spent all his summers in Puerto Rico, where his developer father likes to build hotels. Lucas hangs out with his friends, swims, drinks, and kisses pretty girls. But he also wonders about the local legend -- that a poison-girl with green skin and green hair lives at the end of a lonely street, a girl who can grant wishes. When tragedy strikes, Lucas decides to find out if this girl exists, and if she can help.
Sigh. This book captured me with its gorgeous cover and intriguin
As someone born and raised in Puerto Rico, I am more than used to seeing my island fetishized by outsiders. While this is my home, for innumerable people this is their paradise away from home. And that's it. For so many, Puerto Rico is reduced to beaches, sunsets, dancing and beautiful women. Which is why it hurts doubly to see a YA book do the same, then claim it will do otherwise, and end up portraying Puerto Rico in an even worse manner. Because, yes, having my country reduced to party and fu ...more
Emily May
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars. Hmm, I'm feeling conflicted about this.

Mabry writes beautifully and doesn't fail to do the setting (San Juan, Puerto Rico) justice with lush descriptions. I love magical realism, especially when the author infuses the writing with an equally magical quality, and I was really excited to read about a place that is rare to find in YA.

That being said, I found most of the story uninteresting. It shouldn't have been. A cursed girl lurking in the shadows of a Caribbean island should be rea
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this book, so I was pretty eager to read it. Sadly, I was more confused than anything.

Lucas is an interesting enough character. He comes across as sort of apathetic and yet when he finds Isabel, it's intriguing to see what holds his attention. Even with that, it wasn't enough to captivate me. The secondary characters {Dr. Ford, Lucas's dad and friends, even Isabel} weren't fleshed out and while that helped paint the picture of Lucas's implied instability, it didn't help me t
A finished copy was provided by the publisher for review.

I was a little torn with this one which is why I'm rating it in the middle.. I liked it and disliked certain aspects. For one, it's very dragging. Hardly anything happens until later on in the book. And it was enough for me to keep from DNFing which is saying something because I actually did enjoy her writing.

I also loved the setting because I've been to San Juan myself and can picture the streets as easily as it were in the book. The heat
Ashley Daviau
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book solely because I fell in love with the cover and I must say, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made! This book was a totally unexpected gem and I absolutely loved everything about it from start to finish.

The story is so interesting and unique, I've never read anything like it! The whole concept captivated me right from the very beginning and I only became more and more enraptured by this story as it went along.

I really loved the setting of the story as well! I've neve
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

This audiobook didn't really work for me. I really wanted to like. I tried really hard to enjoy it...but it just was not for me. I was really excited about this book from the start since the summary sounds really good and that title. Too bad that it didn't live up to my expectations. I actually thought about just stopping this one a couple of times but I had to spend a couple of days in the car so I pushed myself to continue. I really should
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

This was really good.

The usual things said... the writing was beautiful, haunting... the characters I fell in love with right away, all tried and true but certainly does apply here :).

The air simmers with the feel of magic, menance, and mystery... right away, we're pulled into a world with stories told about the house with the legends of the Cursed Girl. They say she has green skin and grass for hair and she grants wi
Sara Grochowski
This stunning debut from Samantha Mabry is a seamless combination of magical realism and murder mystery. 17-year old Lucas spends his summers on the island of San Juan, indulging in summer romances and enjoying the local stories, like that of the cursed, poison-filled girl that grants wishes and can kill with a touch. His summer of leisure comes to a halt local girls - including his almost-girlfriend -are found dead on the beach. Then a mysterious note revealing a dark mystery appears in his roo ...more
A Fierce and Subtle Poison seemed like it was going to be a really good book. One that didn't stay on my TBR for long, but also one that I had to think about before I could finally write my review.

Now I've never been to Puerto Rico, so this book was sort of fun to dive into. I absolutely adored the descriptions of the place, and it made me want to book a flight asap. Yet, it was the characters and some parts of the actual story that didn't do the book justice. At least in my eyes.

Lucas and Isa
Renee Godding
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: magical-realism
I wanted to love this soooo badly, but unfortunately it didn’t deliver for me.
The premise was rocksolid and the writing was exactly what I wanted it to be. Yet the story itself was too lacklustre and the characters too one dimensional for me to properly enjoy the novel as a whole.

Full review to come.
Kristin Hackett (Merrily Kristin)
Originally posted on Super Space Chick:

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is Samantha Mabry’s debut YA novel following a teen named Lucas who lives in Puerto Rico. Lucas is not well liked within the community, especially by the local police officer, because he is mostly viewed as a troublemaker who has everything handed to him. He spends most of his time drinking and hooking up with local girls and he doesn’t have any concrete direction for his future but he expects to work for his father once he’s old
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This story is set in Puerto Rico. The main character is Lucas, a gringo, who spend summers on the island with his dad. A Fierce and Subtle Poison starts right off with the myth of the girl with green skin and grass for hair. She lives at the cursed house at the end of Calle Sol. People dream of her and Lucas just wants to know if she is real. When Lucas’ latest fling, Marisol, disappears Lucas starts getting notes from the mythical girl.

The author of this book uses beautiful descriptive language
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
*I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I did not finish this book. I read 65% of it, but was not able to continue it, because I did not enjoy the story.

Although the writing style was very enjoyable, I thought the plot of the story lacked pace. It was dragging and therefore not enjoyable to read. Such a shame because the premise was extremely hopeful for a packed-full storyline.
Kara Babcock
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
A Fierce and Subtle Poison is based on, or at least owes some inspiration to, “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, a work of science fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a scientist’s daughter who becomes immune to poisonous plants but poisonous herself to others. Samantha Mabry transposes the setting to present-day Puerto Rico and ages down the cast a little; Lucas becomes a high school senior on the verge of college studies, spending one more summer in Puerto Rico at one of his father’s hotels. There he b ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON was absolutely wonderful! I loved the writing, and as soon as I started reading, I couldn't put it down! I had to actually force myself to go to bed so that I wouldn't be exhausted for work in the morning. :P

I loved Lucas as the narrator, and found it refreshing to have a male protagonist for this story. His perspective kept the story moving at a quick pace, and I really enjoyed seeing the story from his point of view because he was almost as much of an outsider to the
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
“A Fierce and Subtle Poison” is a wonderful tale of magical realism and fantasy based heavily upon the stories and superstitions found in Puerto Rico.

If you’re looking for a book with typical romance, this one is not for you. The focus is more on the mysterious nature of a girl and a boy’s search to find himself. I absolutely loved the look into how Puerto Ricans view the rich Americans who are taking over and destroying the natural beauty of their homeland. For his part, Lucas, the main charact
Another book whose sale has ended. I've made a shelf so everybody can see which books are currently on sale for Kindle. I'll try to update it every day. You can see my Kindle deals shelf here.


This went on sale for Kindle today for only $1.99! I've heard great things about this book, and I'm going to get to it....


You can scoop one up here.
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fiction
Clever interesting twists in this read.
Heather (The Sassy Book Geek)
Originally Posted On The Sassy Book Geek

****Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

Gorgeous cover, gorgeous writing, but a not so gorgeous plot. This book has a lot going for it but at the same time I found it to be a bit tedious, I can see how some people may like or dislike it. Overall it’s just sort of a “meh” book, not necessarily awful but not anything I’d go around recommending either.

The plot was the weakest po
Paige  Bookdragon

Very underwhelming.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison is one of my anticipated books this year. The blurb and the cover really makes me think that this one will be an epic read.


Before I enumerate the things that I find lacking in this book,let's start with what I like first.

With all due respect to the United States of America,I find it refreshing that a story was finally set in a place other than California,New York, Washington, Florida and all the states that are available. A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
A Fierce and Subtle Poison has a really great concept that mixes magical realism and fantasy, but doesn't follow through in a way I would have hoped. I almost stopped reading because it was failing to keep my interest. That shouldn't be the case with a story involving a cursed girl filled with poison. It takes place in Puerto Rico, which is described beautifully. I just didn't connect with the characters or rough plotting.

I won an ARC in the Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an hon
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book, and I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, so let's say 3.5, hmmm?

This book is not what I expected. I expected an atmospheric ghost story in a tropical locale. But that's not what it is.

It's a feminist coming of age story from the POV of a very privileged white male. Another book about women saving themselves and the consequences of those actions.

The writing is good, and the book moves along quickly - I read it in just a few sittings.

I can't quite
This is magical realism! It's quite reminiscent of Nova Ren Suma's IMAGINARY GIRLS, and I mean that in a very good way. It's about heroism, about girls staking a claim in their own stories, about cultural values and how white men think they can control and own everything (patriarchyyy). But it's a feminism novel featuring a male lead character, so those things are far more subtle than overt.

The language and writing are excellent and Mabry's an author I can't wait to read more from.
Damaris (GoodChoiceReading)
Eh, I just can't get into this one. I can't seem to connect with ANY of the characters. The story is a story inside of a story, eh.... Nothing really happening except two girls who were missing washed up on the beach. I really wanted to like this one and finish it, but it's not for me. :-/ ...more
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
A little bit of weird pacing but an overall good story with a nice open ending. If you're looking for something a little out there, this is a book for you. ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed
Grief was a strange thing, bewitching and bewildering.

There's a myth about a little girl with green skin and grass for hair, whispered by the people of Old San Juan. The girl lives in a boarded-up house at the end of Calle Sol, its courtyard full of her poisonous plants.

Lucas and his friends used to make up their own stories about her when they were children. They said her touch is lethal, that her plants can make anyone's nightmares come true, that she has the ability to grant wishes. When gir
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Review over on Little Lillie Reads!

This was an interesting read. I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the writing presented to me in this book. Samantha Mabry did an excellent job of combining cultural beliefs/superstitions with magic realism, and was able to create a story unlike others I have read. I read A Fierce and Subtle Poison in two sittings because it was just that intriguing. There was something about the writing that drew me in and had me craving more. I was totally investe
Caroline Talton
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
full review up here!

I was provided a copy of this by Netgalley and Algonquin Young readers, so thanks to both! Okay I finished this book really late last night (after starting it yesterday as well!) and I've just now gotten the time to collect my thoughts. I was honestly really swept away in the lush, tropical world of this novel. I loved reading about Puerto Rico as a setting, and that was probably my favorite part of the book. The prose was pretty as well though! The one point that I just felt
Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)
Mar 12, 2016 rated it did not like it

his book had SO MUCH POTENTIAL! Being from PR, I was super excited about this but really it just ended up falling flat for me. I think the characters and the setting could have both been explored more. I almost wish it were longer so we could get a deeper look into how the setting progresses the story farther than just the legend story-telling older ladies and the beach. Lucas didn't keep me interested, I hate his father and I feel he was never really told off for being a racist sexist ass and t
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samantha was born four days before the death of john lennon. she grew up in dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

she spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.

A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) is her first novel

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