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 of 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 sewers beneath the city, Josse’s hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible―until his path collides with Mirabelle’s.
She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. They are sworn enemies, yet 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?
Addie Thorley spent her childhood playing soccer, riding horses, and scribbling stories. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism, she decided “hard news” didn’t contain enough magic and kissing, so she flung herself into the land of fiction and never looked back.
She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and wolf dog, and when she’s not writing she can be found gallivanting in the woods or galloping around the barn where she works as a horse trainer and exercise rider. AN AFFAIR OF POISONS is her debut novel.
The "Affair of the Poisons" was an actual historical event in 17th century France, in which many members of the nobility purchased poisons and other illicit services from a woman named La Voisin, and other mystics and alchemists, to "take care of people" who served as an impediment to their ambitions. Hundreds of people were implicated and it understandably caused a lot of fear and paranoia. If you've heard of this and aren't sure why, it was mentioned in Versailles. That was how I first learned about it, watching the TV show with my mom.
AN AFFAIR OF POISONS takes that event and runs with it, spinning it out into a tale of historical fantasy with real alchemy and magical poisons. There are two narrators: Mirabelle is the daughter of La Voisin and a powerful alchemist. She aids and abets her mother and her sorcerer lover, Legrange, who are both part of the Shadow Society working to overthrow the nobility. She inadvertently starts a violent revolution when her mother uses one of her poisons to murder the king of France. Josse is the bastard son of the king and lives in the shadow of his favored older brother, Louis. His father's murder fills him with angst over the lack of closure, and the determination to protect what remains of his family from revolution.
When our characters meet at first, they do not like each other very much. Mirabelle has been taught her whole life that the Shadow Society are helping the commoners escape from the yoke of noble rule. And Josse has her society to blame for the murder of his father and the persecution of his siblings. However, La Voisin has lost sight of her original mission and soon proves to be utterly corrupt with power, willing to do whatever it takes to secure her foothold in the control of France, even if it means using the people she originally sought to protect as pawns.
I really enjoyed AN AFFAIR OF POISONS and I'm honestly surprised it doesn't have more reviews or buzz. First, it's a standalone in a genre being overrun by multi-book cash cows. When was the last time you saw a young adult fantasy novel that wasn't at least three books long? Second, Mirabelle is a strong female character and Josse is a flawed hero who doesn't act like an abusive creep. Both of them have a lot of character development over the course of this book, and make mistakes with grievous consequences. There is a lot at stake, and the author isn't afraid to show that. Third, it's a fantasy reimagining of Revolutionary France, and if you took one thing away from my review of Paula Volsky's ILLUSION, it should be that that is a concept I'm all over like white on rice.
AN AFFAIR OF POISONS is a good book and if you're tired of books like THRONE OF GLASS and the like, you should pick this up and also read up on The Affair of the Poisons while you're at it.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
A fun, fast-paced historical romp peppered with standard debut fare, An Affair of Poisons doesn't disappoint—but it could have been less romantic.
Historical vibe: ★★★★★ Plot: ★★★★ Characters: ★★★
First off, this was an amazing debut. YA authors have a hard ballot to fill—they seemingly need to include everything as well as set themselves up for a series. One of the main things that struck me about this book was that it didn't prolong, enhance, or set up for more - it just was.
The plot follows two main characters with alternating POVs - Mirabelle and Josse. Mirabelle is the daughter of La Voisin, the real-life poisoner who conspired with the french king's mistress, Madame de Montspan, to poison the Sun King, Louis XIV. Unlike the true history where La Voisin was caught and executed, An Affair of Poisons imagines a world where La Voisin was successful and her daughter, Mirabelle, was the genius behind the poison.
The catch is: Mirabelle had no idea she was killing the king, or that her mother had a revolutionary plot to reform France into her own control. Mirabelle is #notpleased.
Josse is the bastard son of Louis XIV and a parlor maid. He's got some complicated feelings toward his more legitimate royal siblings, as well as some complicated feelings about himself. Josse is thrown into the difficult position of helping his younger siblings as they flee the palace in the wake of La Voisin's hostile takeover. I'd write more about Josse, but he was not a strong character so there's not much to say.
Things happen, revolutions are bloody, and adding poison and magic to the mix just raises the body count.
I loved almost everything about An Affair of Poisons...except for the romance. Did we need it? I know romance is all fun and good and I love it, but I knew upon discovering that there was 1 girl and 1 guy that the odds were high that it would lead to love, but still.
The result was one killer debut full of murder, intrigue, Paris flair, historical factoids...and a slapdash romance that was not fully explained or fleshed out. It would have been a great seed to plant for a second book, but as a standalone it felt rushed.
Overall, fantastic debut. The historical flair really brought this up to a 4 star. I'll be keeping my eye out for Addie Thorley's next (hopefully) historically influenced work.
Lots of feelings - on the one hand it feels very much like a debut novel—it ticks off all the boxes religiously—but on the other there were several good parts and the alternative take on the history of the time period was extremely well done. Review to come!
Literally will read anything involving Paris during the time of Louis XIV - and this one involves poisoners and magic?? Heaven.
An atmospheric historical fantasy set during the reign of King Louis XIV with an alternate twist of events.
I had been anticipating this book ever since I first laid eyes upon the summary. I nearly died when I was approved for an ARC. An Affair of Poisons is based on L'affaire des poisons, the major murder scandal in France during the reign of King Louis XIV that resulted in 36 conspirators executed. Addie Thorley envisioned an intriguing alternate history to this event which involved La Voisin and the people of Paris. La Voisin was a French fortune teller, commissioned poisoner, and professional provider of alleged sorcery and became the central figure in this wicked affair. Now, that is an impressive resume.
“Some claim she's a witch. Others a Saint. I see no difference; the people of Paris worship her either way."
This tense and fast-paced tale is rooted in 17th century Paris on the brink of political revolution and depicts what happens when alchemist, Mirabelle and bastard princeling, Josse have to work together to stop the murder of both nobility and the common people after Mirabelle accidentally murders King Louis XIV for her mother’s (La Voisin) Shadow Society. From the very first pages, the lush descriptions and rich details depicted a dark and atmospheric tone. I often forgot that I was reading young adult because it didn’t feel that way. Descriptions of alchemical magic and deadly smoke beasts gave the plot a wicked advantage and unique sharpness.
Thorley was able to keep the intensity of plot without sacrificing the character’s individual, unique voice. Told to us through alternating perspectives, you find yourself quickly falling in love with Mira’s fierceness and courage and Josse’s loyalty and commitment. Together, Mira and Josse supported each other as they battled against their unique struggles of self-worth, acceptance, guilt, pain, trust, and loyalty.
Every character represented the hopes and struggles during this period; however, the story was afflicted by flat characterization. We see one side and a few traits, but most of the characters were generally the same from beginning to end. There is a romance, and it is slow and gives you a feeling of sweet hope without overshadowing the plot. If there is one trope that I live for—it’s the enemy to lover; slow burning romance.
“I’d believe her capable of anything when she’s grinning like that. Her smile is dazzling. It could set the world ablaze.”
Overall, this is a memorable fantasy debut by Addie Thorley which tells a creative and alternate history of real life events. Be sure to read Thorley's author note at the end in which she shares the real events, and where exactly her inspiration came from. She also provides additional recommended reading if readers wished to learn more of the Affair of the Poisons.
CW: Murder, death of family, blood and illness, poverty and homelessness
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley— in exchange for an honest review.
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. __________ Pre-Review- Please stop what you're doing and check out the Pinterest inspiration board for this book. [see review from author] I don't say this lightly. I have found my #1 most anticipated 2019 read! <3 *fans face* I am dying over here. In complete shambles. I have that feeling, right inside my chest, that is wishing I could just squeeze this book so tightly and never let go.
UPDATE: 6/11/18- Poisons has an official release date--February 26, 2019 and it's available for PREORDER wherever books are sold! Woohoo!!! Hang on to your proof of purchase if you preorder; I'm designing some awesome swag and would love to send it your way. More details coming soon!
I'm SO EXCITED to share AN AFFAIR OF POISONS with you guys in February 2019!!! I'll be updating this space whenever I have news. I *just* saw the first cover concepts and nearly died from happiness! Hopefully it should be finalized and revealed in the next month or two. Woohoo!
AN AFFAIR OF POISONS features fierce female alchemists (YAY for women in science!), brooding bastard princes, enemies to lovers romance, and historical events that have been flipped on their head. As well as lots of magic and murder and mayhem, of course!
The cover of this book originally drew me in. SO DANG SHINY. But I also love that it’s a standalone, something we almost never see outside of contemporary. An Affair of Poisons has a clear set up, enough action to keep you roped in, and a solid ending that leaves you satisfied.
Oh, and dual POV narration (fab audiobook!).
Besides that, here are a few reasons why I loved this book:
Dragons. THERE ARE DRAGONS. That sounds so random for a story where the royalty is being murdered by poison I was like a kid in the candy store for the dragons.
A bastard with a heart of gold. I loved how Josse cared for his sisters through the story. I also cheered for the romance, not going to lie.
Villains being villains. Let the bad guys be bad. The villain in this story reminded me of Levana in Fairest and I am here for it.
Alchemy. I will basically read anything with alchemy in it.
In all fairness, it's probably the fault of my own expectations that meant that I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I wanted to. I went in expecting something solidly historical with a dash of fantasy thrown in, but - though this novel does purport to base itself in 17th France - it's really more of a fantasy novel with a hint of historical fiction.
It plays pretty fast and loose with history, throwing it completely aside shortly after the beginning of the book, and, because I wasn't expecting it at all, I didn't enjoy this tactic. If it had been pitched as more of a fantasy that was based on 17th century France rather than belonging solidly in the historical fiction genre, it would have been so much better - and I would have been able to moderate my expectations.
The characters were decent, but nothing special or original - nothing that I haven't seen before in countless other YA novels. The fantastical elements, though, were interesting, and I enjoyed reading about the smoke/shadow beasts. I almost think that this is a story that would work better on a screen with the requisite special effects required to pull them off, rather than being limited to just text in a novel.
It's a fairly solid debut novel, and short enough to binge through in an afternoon or two, but unfortunately it has become somewhat blurred in my memory. It's another one of those unfortunate YA books that's good in the moment, but ultimately ends up being quite forgettable.
Historical fantasy? And a murder scandal? Set in 17th century France? With an absolutely gorgeous cover?
“It’s madness to think one person could make a difference, anyway.” “Is it, princeling?”
Set in 17th century France, this fantastical alternate history follows the bastard son of the Sun King and the poisoner daughter of a witch who seizes control of Paris. The story is easy to read and easier to follow, with a pretty basic plot that uses a logical formula. The enemies to lovers part of the story was played down more than I would have liked, but the romance was decent. None of the characters stood out very much, yet they weren't bad characters either. That being said, I loved the siblings dynamic and wished that it would have taken more of a central role.
"Stop blaming me, and everyone else, for not living up to your potential. You’ve no one to blame but yourself."
Overall, the story was pretty predictable. I actually didn't like the final outcome because it didn't solve anything, though I understand why the author chose that ending. I would have liked the character development to happen over a larger span of time, but I am glad that it occurred. In summary, this was a pretty average YA fantasy. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't extortionary either.
Tense and fast-paced and exquisitely researched, AN AFFAIR OF POISONS will charm any reader wanting a slice of alternate French history filled with intriguing characters and an electric romance. Seriously, it's good. Put it on your TBRs.
An Affair of Poisons has one of those beginnings that makes you pump your fist and scream, "YES!" this is exactly the type of heroine I've been searching for! In the first chapter, Mira is in her lab, mixing up a poison to kill an abusive Duke for the infamous Shadow Society that her mother leads. She *seems* to fully embrace her role for this underground group of fortune tellers, magicians, and poisoners, delighting in her place but wanting more.
Then, her mother uses the poison to kill the king instead, and suddenly Mira is horrified that her poison was used...well, to poison someone.
From this point on, I can't seem to nail down who Mira is or what she wants. Is she trying to earn her mother's approval? Just hide out in her lab and make potions? Right her mother's wrongs? I don't know, and I don't think she knows either. Most of her segments are spent in her head in heavy narrative scenes where she laments her position but takes halfhearted action to correct it.
However, on the complete opposite, Josse, the king's bastard son, is the hero I love to see in YA. Sarcastic, doting big brother, smart, loyal. We know exactly what he wants, and he is fervent in his goal to save his little sisters from the rebellion. If he were narrating this entire thing, or even the majority of it, I would be 100% along for the ride.
And huzzah to the author for creating two very different characters with unique voices. That is really hard to do in first person, and she nailed it.
The problem is, I just don't like one of her characters, so this review is entirely personal, and as I seem to be the only person in the universe who didn't love Caraval, I am sure I will be one of the few who doesn't love An Affair of Poisons.
I’m familiar with the real-life “affair of poison” scandal so I was very eager to pick up Addie Thorley’s An Affair of Poisons. Her alt-history rendition did not disappoint. The novel is well-researched, beautifully written, and impeccably paced. I urge all fantasy fans and historical fans to pick it up. Read it. Love it. This book is very very good!
This was a solid 3.5-star read, but I'll round it up to a 4 for the ending.
This book is essentially what you think it'll be and it does not disappoint. I didn't find myself being drawn to the book, but once I had it, I had to read a few chapters before I'd be happy putting it down.
If you like when real history gets blended with fantasy, pick this up. If that's not your vibe, maybe steer clear of this one.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Death of loved ones, murder, blood/illness/gore throughout novel, poverty and homelessness
An Affair of Poisons is a masterfully crafted tale of what happens when an expert alchemist (Mirabelle) and royal bastard (Josse) who have to work together to stop the murder of both royalty and commoners after Mirabelle semi-accidentally murders King Louis XIV for her mother’s Shadow Society.
Mirabelle and Josse each have utterly unique voices, and they’re smart and capable but—wait for it—still act like teenagers! They do reckless things and get into trouble nearly every chapter, creating tension that had me shook until the very last page. I adored the discussion of parental approval and what children will do to gain that approval. Even if that means, well, treason.
I love alternate historical novels, because you get a glimpse into what could have been. An Affair of Poisons is based on L'affaire des poisons, which was a WILD event that ended up with 36 conspirators executed. Also, can we discuss how perfect the cover is? It’s perfect. I cannot WAIT to get the hardcover in my hands!
The lush descriptions, fantastical elements, and slow burn romance mix better than some of Mirabelle’s alchemy experiments (love ya, Mira), painting a backdrop of a time where magic flowed freely, the monarchy was despised, and Paris was on the cusp of revolution. Addie Thorley is a talent to watch, and I’m so excited to see what she creates next!
This book starts off strong, interesting concept and rich detail. The alternating between the two main characters was great as it gave both their perspectives. I enjoyed the story building up until 75%, then one big thing happened, and it felt rushed. The ending tried to slow it down again, but then at that point it was kinda over already.
Interesting if you enjoy history filled description, and was a quick read.
One and a half stars for having a pretty interesting premise and a bunch of good ideas sprinkled along the pages. Sadly the rest of the stars are lost in poor execution.
All the characters are so flat they never had a chance to become likeable (or hateable, since even the evil characters don’t elicit any feelings). There's so much that makes no sense and many continuity errors, it reads like a first draft (but I didn't encounter any typos, yay!). All it gained from two first person POVs was a confused reader since the two main characters sound exactly alike, and little mistakes like them describing their own eyes, or knowing someone's name before they were introduced. Everything that could’ve been wonderfully clever and political was mere teenage angst and temper tantrums, and the naivety of the characters and the plot was so frustrating I'm still mad about it. Sigh.
After finishing Enchantée, I wasn’t sure how quickly I wanted to dive back into another historical fiction book involving France. An Affair of Poisons takes place a hundred or so years before the events of the French Revolution, where kings and nobles are still on top. The events of this book are based on real events, too. (I happened to briefly look up the actual Affair of Poison a few days before I started this book, which I found a bit ironic.)
A huge thanks to Page Street Publishing and NetGalley for giving me a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain possible spoilers.
Even though this book is based on true events, I really liked the liberties the author took to make us care about the characters and creating subplots. (There’s a really nice author’s note in the back as well where Thorley elaborates more of the characters, true and made-up, and the events.) I enjoyed the magic, too, and the poisoner / alchemist aspect. The plot was well-paced and full of action, while still lingering on character traits and personalities enough for me to actual care. The opening chapter was quick, too, taking us right into the main part of the story. I never thought the book’s pacing was slow, and I found myself eager to return to this world.
I found our main characters, Josse and Mirabelle, to be both believable, likable characters. One of the parts that really frustrated me though was how Mirabelle viewed her father. There’s mixed feelings and twisted stories, but still in the end, I don’t know what to make of him. I’m not quite sure I like him as much as Mirabelle did, and it was frustrating to be honest. Not to say that her mother was shone in bad light because she was, too, and really did what she could to survive while her husband–supposedly?–became so buried in his work he ignored his family. I don’t think Mira understands that as she just has this perpetual dislike of her mother. One of the few times I became eternally frustrated with Mira is her constant battle within herself as to whether or not she was truly responsible for poisoning the Sun King. Yes…but no? Personally, I was tired of hearing her talk about it because I don’t think she played as big of a role in it as she thought, and she was manipulated to do so anyway. I see how Thorley used this to create external tension later between Mira and another character, but man, it was often a pain to read.
I loved Josse’s relationship with this sisters and how their bond fueled most of his actions in the story. I’m a sucker for good sibling relationships and I thought this book did a fantastic job with it.
One of my major complaints and reasons I gave this book 4 stars is the world-building. It almost isn’t there… Which sounds silly, right? For me, it was hard to imagine I was in 1600s France. Maybe this is due to the minor characters in the book, or the fact that the main characters don’t dabble with the nobles a lot. But you could put drop this plot in any historical setting and I think it would have worked. (Yes, I know this is based on true events, so sue me.) Maybe that’s a polite way of me saying the world-building didn’t feel unique, making the story a bit lackluster. But the author really does draw you in with the strong emotions the characters feel. I really had to brace myself for their internal thoughts as they struggled through particular events.
An Affair of Poisons is kind of what I hoped to get from Enchantee (but didn't). If you like the idea of magic and alchemy in revolutionary Paris, then I would give this one a try. It is a dual-perspective narrative with action, romance, treachery, and (of course) poison.
Mirabelle is an alchemist with an abusive mother who runs the League of Shadows which, ostensibly, advocates for the common man. In reality, her mother cares more about power than the people. I listened to this on audio, but I'm not sure I would recommend it because the female narrator makes Mirabelle sound very whiny which I don't think does justice to her character on the page. When she is tricked into making a horrific poison which her mother uses to kill the King of France, Mirabelle is captured and must decide where her loyalties lie.
Josse is the bastard son of the king and has a fraught relationship with his brother, the heir to the crown. When his father is poisoned, he saves the new Dauphin and his two young sisters by hiding them in the sewers. But poison is slowly killing his sisters and he must decide whether he can trust Mirabelle to save their lives.
This was a well-executed YA fantasy with a bit of a darker tone. There is definitely violence and abuse depicted, along with some emotional drama that feels very true-to-age for the teen characters. Josse and Mirabelle both undergo arcs of character development that feels satisfying and the stakes in the plot are quite high. I thought this was a solid debut novel and look forward to seeing more from this author.
"Sometimes succession is ugly. But we can rest easy in the knowledge that those who perished deserved their fate."
TW: abuse, torture, panic attacks
Let's be honest here. There’s nothing wonderful to say about An Affair of Poisons. But there is also nothing hideous to pinpoint. It was an average read, enjoyable and appreciated for what it was, but that won’t be remembered or acclaimed, tbh.
The plot was gripping and interesting. Fast-paced and full of intrigue, but also slightly predictable and similar to the majority of YA books. The ending itself was too cheesy and sappy for my tastes, and like many other YA titles, it didn’t quite go where I hoped it to go. It was a rather vanilla, rushed and underwhelming ending. Nonetheless, all the action that happened prior to the last 10% of the book was thrilling and engrossing. I liked the whole poison aspect and I was not expecting this book to be as dark and gore-y as it was (mind you, it wasn’t extreme, it wasn’t unbearable, it wasn’t graphic; it was just more than I anticipated). In general I'd say I liked the plot and I was even mildly hooked. But, again, nothing groundbreaking.
The characters were captivating. Maybe not unique, but they surely had their own personalities. I appreciated how stubborn and strong-willed they were, and their banter was funny - nothing exceptional but still something worth mentioning and that I liked. I also found interesting how our main characters both had somewhat abusive parents. It was intriguing seeing how Josse and Mirabelle faced and handled these problems. Still, the characters weren’t really remarkable nor memorable. They were good for who they were, but I won’t remember them in the long run. They were rather standard and common. Enjoyable and good, that for sure, but they won’t stick with me for long.
I also just wanna point out a couple of things that kinda irked me. Because, let’s be honest, this wouldn’t be a Rather Random Review™️ if I weren’t to write super-specific ranty remarks.
So, first thing first. This book had a couple of words in French and I couldn’t help but notice a couple of mistakes. Specifically, when addressing Mirabelle and her family, people used the nickname “La Voisin” (and variations, such as “la petite Voisin”). Now, and hear me out, “la” is a female article, and in French - more often than not - if the name (i.e. “voisin”) is used to define a feminine person or object, then you add an “-e” to the end of the word. So, basically, what I’m trying to say is that the nicknames should have been “La Voisine”, “la petite Voisine”, “mes petites Voisines” and so on and so forth, since they were used to call female characters. I know it is super specific, I know it is something silly that can be overlooked, but I did notice it and it bothered me. Because if you wanna use a foreign language or foreign words go ahead and use them but, at the very least, use them correctly, I’m begging you. Maybe it was written that way because these characters’ surname was “Monvoisin” but freaking still. It was grammatically wrong and I couldn’t not notice it :/
Another thing that left me kinda bamboozled was the fact that our male main character (Josse) was praised for being very good at public speeches but when ONE (1) speech got a bit challenging because people were answering back and demanding stuff, he gave up and said that it was impossible to persuade the crowd. Okay, I mean, whatever. Weren’t you a master in speeches and convincing people? Well, apparently no since you won’t even try win over the audience. Cool, okay. Again, I know this is a ludicrous detail to notice, but it threw me off and made Josse less real, less three-dimensional. The fact that he didn't even try to convince the people made the statement of him being good at speeches empty, and it lowered his character to somewhat less realistic and more two-dimensional.
And lastly, because I gotta cut myself short when it comes to these petty and super-detailed remarks, another aspect that rubbed me the wrong way was how easily some harmful behaviors were brushed under the rug. For example, it has been said for the whole book that Josse had a tough relationship with his father and that Josse always thought that he was never loved, never enough. So, the two main characters have a discussion about that and - apparently - after years of doubts, thoughts, insecurities and overall pain, it just took one (1) person and one (1) comment to fix everything that has been. After eighteen years of self-doubts and fears, one (1) random person’s point of view is enough. Again, I know it is something ridiculously small to pinpoint, but, in my opinion, it felt a bit unrealistic and it made the characters more shallow and less complex. Which is never good.
Overall, as you might have gathered, there were good things and some not so good things. I'd say this was an enjoyable book but not a remarkable one.
The writing style was smooth and effortless. It flowed and created some pretty sentences and the plot was interesting enough so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Addie Thorley’s future works, for sure. There’s potential, this is a fact, and I will be curious to see what other books she will get published.
An Affair of Poisons was an interesting stand-alone, with vivid setting, stubborn characters, effortless writing style, but not a memorable read. Good, but not magnificent. Average 👌🏻
"Stop blaming me, and everyone else, for not living up to your potential. You’ve no one to blame but yourself."
This is a book that got better as I read further and further into it. Although I liked the concept of An Affair of Poisons, I was definitely a little wary as I read, not entirely sure if I was into it and the story and the characters.
But as it progressed, I warmed up to the book and what was happening, especially at the end.
I guess what stood out the most to me was the romance, actually! I thought Josse and Mira were cute and their characters actually complemented each other really really well.
They worked in the way that I felt like Josse helped Mira face her fears and flaws etc., and Mira did the same for Josse, making them actually one of the only decent YA pairs, in my opinion?
Like, they just worked really well in my opinion, and I applaud Addie Thorley for giving me a ship that I can actually stand by.
I did think that the history was also really well-developed, and I liked reading Thorley’s author note and seeing how it all came together. Plus, France! Revolution! All sorts of fun things. The time period is definitely a very interesting one, and although I can’t say whether or not Thorley did a good job in accuracy, I will say that it was nice in the way that it worked within the story.
I guess, part of my problem with this book was just kind of how I felt like it took a while to get to where it needed to be. Like, it dawdled a bit and I feel like the beginning half could have been condensed. Even though everything seemed like it had a purpose, it also wasn’t really grabbing me from the start, and I wanted more.
Also, there were a few scenes where I wasn’t completely clued in with the characters’ emotions, in my opinion, so I just was kind of ??? at why they were doing something–but overall it was pretty well cemented to the characters.
Also–I wanted more of Mira’s relationship with her adopted brother (which was definitely another highlight of this book). I think the dynamic had a lot in it and still some left to explore, and I also really enjoyed how it contrasted against Mira and her biological sister’s relationship which was filled with a lot more animosity.
I don’t really know how to pinpoint where this book went wrong other than the slower pacing at the beginning and the fact that I just didn’t entirely click with this book at the start. I enjoyed the ending, but for a decent amount of time I wavered between like and dislike. And I could have easily DNF’d it during the beginning if it wasn’t an ARC (but I didn’t, and it ended up being worth it in the end, hence 3.5 a positive rating!)
Overall, I enjoyed reading and I think that people who like the concept will enjoy this! This isn’t one of my forever-books, but I did really like what Thorley did with this, and think it’s a nice contribution to the French-inspired YA segment about the actual historical Affair of Poisons.
Thank you so much to Page Street for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review!
three point five stars ��� i am genuinely so impressed by this book! i haven’t heard a lot about it so i wasn’t sure what to expect when picking it up, but i’m happy to say that i loved what i read! i wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much but after the first few chapters i was really hooked and wanted to continue reading! i did have one or two things that i just didn’t vibe with, such as the overuse of similes and metaphors that are in this book. i’m pretty sure i counted 5 on one page and while i love descriptive writing, that just wasn’t it for me. the other thing is that the beginning was kind of slow (although the first two chapters are pretty action packed, i just wasn’t connected to the characters or the story yet) and i worried i was gonna dnf it! but now it’s almost a four star read for me and i’m really happy that i decided to randomly pick it up! ∗
4.5 stars. This book is the definition of a cover buy for me, and I am not ashamed of that fact! I'm also pleased to report that this blend of alternative history and YA fantasy lives up to its gold foil and intriguing title. This book is set in an alternate timeline where magic exists, and a fortune-teller's plot to kill the French king Louis XIV is successful, thanks to the skills of her alchemist daughter, Mira. Thorley has a great author's note where she talks about the woman who inspired this story, and I'm certainly interested in learning more about the real La Voisin.
In this story, Mira becomes disillusioned with her mother's plot to take the throne, seeing that her promises to end the violence quickly beget more violence. This leads her to an uneasy alliance with Josse, a bastard prince determined to keep the legitimate royal children from the hands of the Shadow Society. It's been awhile since I wholeheartedly rooted for a romantic pairing in a YA book, but Mira and Josse have a really sweet relationship and they're really supportive of each other.
In addition to the romance, I was impressed by the familial relationships in this book; Mira and Josse's struggles to reconcile their upbringings with what they are learning about the world are both touching and relatable. They both have complex relationships with their siblings that were relevant to the plot. I also love a good redemption arc, and there's a certain side character who grew so much throughout the novel and went from being a two-dimensional caricature to one of my favorites.
The book wraps up quickly, but I much prefer a standalone with a slightly rushed ending to a trilogy with lots of filler (especially when revolution is involved). If you've never tried an alternative history YA novel, you should pick this one up!
This is more of a 3.5/3.75 than a solid 3, but not quite a four.
The things I liked were the characters. I honestly liked the secondary characters, like Francoise and Anne, Gravil, and Louis more than the primary characters, but thats not to say I didn't like Josse or Mirabelle. I just think that their attitude was too modern-day for this time period. I just don't think a rebellion is the answer to everything. I obviously don't like Mira's mother or Margot, but it was also because they were too cliche-villainy, ya know?
What I didn't like was that there wasn't any world building. I mean I guess I can imagine what old Paris looked like, but there wasn't any details to buildings, I felt like. Visually, things fell through for me. Also, the romance. It was predictable, and when it happened, it felt like the author made it too forced. But I really liked their friendship, and how similar they were despite being from different classes.
All in all, I really like this book. I felt in some places that the storyline could have had more to it or have been written better, but I was delivered what I had wanted and expected.
i love EVERYTHING about this book!!! the world building, the magic system, the characters development and the whole plot was perfect for me <33 i couldnt put this book down at all! i wasnt expecting it to be this good! i really love it. all of the characters were amazing. josse, i love josse so much he was so loving and caring and the bond between him and his sisters are just awwwww and mirabelle of course i love her so much and she’s always gonna be my favourite. louis with the plot twist at the end was so good! his character development was the best among all. i love him so much and gris :(( poor gris i was devastated with his death ughh it was so sad (i had tears in my eyes) and i love him so much too <33 i love the romance between josse and mira too. it was so cute and i think it’s perfect because it doesn’t overshadow the whole plot. it’s 10/10 for me :) here’s some of my favourite quote 1) “we’ll make a new life you and i” -Josse 2) “you’re better alchemist than myself” -Antoine 3) “i should have choosen you sooner” -Gris
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Well this was a monumental disappointment of a book. Simply put: you've read this book before. I've read this book before. Anyone who has read a fiction book has read this book before. Despite the concept of poisoning King Louis around the time of the revolution, this book is very basic. The main female is into alchemy but spends 99% of the book swooning or being the most sense human imaginable. It's the least memorable book possible in 2019. It's not bad. It's just been done before and to ABSOLUTE DEATH! If we're gonna rehash this "timid girl in revolution split between family and royalty only to be betrayed by everyone except one dude who she immediately gets a crush on," make them likeable or memorable and for the love of ALL THAT IS HOLY, STOP HAVING NARRATORS GASP IN THE STUPID FEMALE TIMID VOICE. It's infuriating and makes your character seem small and timid. On top of that, even I...who am blind to most betrayals, saw everything in this coming from a damn mile away.