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The Poison Garden

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  320 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Shocking, tense and sharply written, The Poison Garden is the gripping new novel from the international bestseller and Edgar award-winning Alex Marwood.
Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now 22, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone - and if she is to keep
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Penguin Books (first published July 25th 2019)
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Erin It will be! It will be released in the UK first, though, If you don't want to wait, you can order from Book Depository (they have free and fast…moreIt will be! It will be released in the UK first, though, If you don't want to wait, you can order from Book Depository (they have free and fast shipping to the US)(less)

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Alex Marwood takes the reader into the toxic, tragic and unwaveringly bleak territory of the dangerous world of cults and communes as she immerses the reader into the horrors of their ways of living. A multilayered narrative provides us with insights and observations of life before, during and the repercussions that follow in the aftermath of the cult with its different timelines and characters. A young vulnerable and pregnant Romy has been shaped by the cult, and has to negotiate life after the ...more
Liz Barnsley
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel I’ve been waiting for and it was worth every second of that wait- nobody engages me with thought provoking characters and stories like Alex Marwood and The Poison Garden is tense, beautiful and utterly gripping.
The thing about this book is it is full of layers, Romy is unforgettable and her life experience and how it defines her sets the anchor for the wider story. This is a dark dark tale indeed, edgy and unpredictable, the cult theme expanded upon in hugely compelling ways. The
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have previously read 'The Darkest Secret' by Alex Marwood and enjoyed it a lot but for some reason I just couldn't connect with this book. I love the writing style but this particular book didn't do it for me.
In this story Romy escapes the cult she was raised in and the only world she has ever known. But when she enters 'normal' life it does not hold the excitement you would expect. Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. Romy is young,
Bill Kupersmith
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth novel by Alex Marwood that I’ve read. I loved The Wicked Girls, The Killer Next Door, and the Darkest Secret, and The Poison Garden does not disappoint. It fascinates each of Marwood’s books is distinctive and different, all excellent but if you didn’t know, you’d swear they are by different authors. This one is a story about a cult that very much resembles Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, though located in Wales instead of Guyana. It also resembles Rebecca Wait’s The Followers: ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like Alex Marwood's style of writing and this had me hooked from the first chapter, a young pregnant woman is found alive inside the grounds of a sprawling rural property owned by a cult, where everyone else appears to be dead. I became totally engrossed in this thought provoking, character driven story, I found it dark and gripping and not quite what I was expecting. The characters were fascinating, the differing time lines really helped to get to know them and perhaps to understand ...more
Tracy Fenton
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a HUGE fan of Alex Marwood's previous books and was thrilled to learn she has a new book being published this month and delighted to get an early copy via Netgalley of THE POISON GARDEN.

THE POISON GARDEN is a real departure from the authors previous books focusing more on the characters and digging deeply into cults, brainwashing and the followers apocalyptic beliefs.

Told through the viewpoint of several main characters, the story begins in Wales when two police officers are called to a
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated with cults and Alex Marwood brings to life the grim reality of what it is like to live in a commune headed by a charismatic leader. The story is bold and in your face and Marwood holds nothing back. Every single shocking detail will completely blow you away.

The Poison Garden weaves the present and the past and tells the story of Romy, now 22, and out in the real world after escaping the cult she spent most of her life in. Romy is thrust into a world virtually
Steve Tannuzzo
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love reading books about cults because the members confound me. What they choose to believe is often outlandish and incomprehensible, and understanding their reasoning (or their openness to believe) fascinates me.

In Alex Marwood's The Poison Garden, we have Romy, the sole adult survivor of a survivalist apocalypse cult — you could say she was "trained" for this moment. Now in the outside world among The Dead (aka everyone else on the planet — they are very much alive — who was not in her cult,
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Alex Marwood’s books, I’ve been a fan since reading The Wicked Girls and with each book she offers an insight into some kind of dark and twisted world.
Within The Poison Garden we are forced to confront the controversial issue of cults, communes, and how they treat each other and how they view the outside world.
Differing time lines allow us to see the story from varying perspectives and I loved that. I really liked Sarah and Romy but wasn’t too fussed about the others.
It’s difficult to say
THE POISON GARDEN, a great title that immediately got my attention, was one of those rare books that grabbed me from page one and utterly absorbed me into the story and its characters. Now that I have finished the book, the ghost of its rich cast is still with me, and I am wondering how their story will go on. It’s the sign of great writing when the setting and characters become so real that I can picture them vividly in my mind like flesh-and-blood people.

I find books about cults fascinating,
Helen Carolan
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent read from Ms Marwood. The members of a cult are fond dead in Wales but there have been some survivors. When Sarah learns that her sisters children are still alive she agrees to have them live with her. But the children struggle to adapt to life outside the cult and may have a hidden agenda which may not involve Sarah. Eerie read and terrific.
Jillian Doherty
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cult fiction is salaciously interesting; there’s so much curiosity into this evergreen fascination.

The Poison Garden offers different points of view in cascading timelines- we see within their communal life, as well as when they’re forced to live amongst the dead- love the way she built the character’s perceptions toward both realities.

A hauntingly compulsive read, with Marwood’s dark signature storytelling.

Galley borrowed from the publisher.
With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

I have enjoyed all Alex Marwood`s books so I was excited to read The Poison Garden.

The prologue started when the police were called to The Ark, a large commune set in the countryside. Within the commune the dead bodies of adults and students were found lying on the ground.

When the police arrived they found twenty two year old Romy was found in the commune `hospital. She was heavily pregnant and had
I know very little about cults and their beliefs, this book certainly opened my eyes.
Toxic and darn right scary. A survivalist cult is always preparing for the end of the world. Now imagine what would happen if someone decides to give it a helping hand.
This book is beautifully written and so easy to get into. I really did not want this book to end. This read had me gripped from the first page and spent most of my time sat on the edge of my seat and tapping my kindle faster. I like the way the
Karen R.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book....I love Alex Marwood’s books, and am a sucker for anything involving cults. So this book was a slam dunk.
When Romy escapes the cult she was raised in, we expect her to become enthralled with the new world she was kept from her whole live. But she surprises us, and you are left wondering how someone makes the choices they do. Is it ingrained in them, or free will? While I wished the book evolved a bit more at the end, that may be because I can’t wrap my head around certain
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Alex Marwood writes I don't feel as though I'm reading a book. I feel as though I'm living it. “The Poison Garden” is no exception. This is my most eagerly anticipated novel of the year and wow! It's even better than I expected. Marwood manages to create characters who evoke empathy as much as they are deeply unlikeable, and the weaving together of their stories leaves the reader with a sense of dark fascination. “The Poison Garden” shines a spotlight on a world alien to most of us and ...more
Rachel Bridgeman
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: july-2019
I have to be extremely careful to avoid spoilers here as this is a book I would want as many lovers of thrillers, dark suspense and horror to read without knowing where they are going.

After escaping the Plas Golau cult, Romy(who has lived there since she was 8 months old) has to adapt to modern life, without her family around her. The way that the modern world is viewed through her eyes after being embedded into a very strict caste structure with defined roles and ways of behaving that do not
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve really enjoyed Alex Marwood’s previous novels like The Darkest Secret so was really excited to read this especially learning that it’s about cults, a topic that intrigues me.
The book opens with a scene in Wales where two officers have been called down by a farmer because of a strange, putrid smell coming from his neighbours: a private and secluded farm. The officers break through and find a river of dead bodies...
The story then breaks into 3 narrative strands:
* Sarah is a 31-year old
Sarah Stone
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Poison Garden was amazing, unputdownable, disturbing, and heart wrenching. I think I experienced every range of emotion throughout the book. I could not fathom how Romy, Ilo, and Eden physically and mentally survived the day their lives changed forever. As they recovered from the fall of the Ark, the reader journey's through how the Ark came to be. Next of kin is contacted to care for Ilo and Eden. Their aunt Sarah takes over as caregiver and is a combination of genuine good nature and a ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book. Interesting and frustrating in some ways. It's a reminder though that we all have our beliefs... ones we assume to be the correct. We're often raised with these beliefs so don't question their veracity. It's a given (for us) that it's others who are wrong. Particularly if THEIR beliefs seem diametrically opposed. This book opens as police officers come across bodies of members of a cult. Oops... sorry, SPOILER!

Mistakenly I'd assumed we were going to be spending time
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As soon as I read the overview of this book and it mentions a cult that was me hooked !! I have always had a big fascination for reading about cults and this book was brilliant, told in two timelines and from different points of view it draws you in with its descriptions of life in the cult and to life after and the horrific consequences of being brainwashed by fear. In a lot of ways this is a sad read but at the same time very compelling and difficult to say more as I think this is a book that ...more
Emma Shaw
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"None of us will be the same, by tomorrow, she thinks."

Two police officers are called out to investigate an awful smell on a farm by a neighbour: a seemingly innocuous call that gives them no warning of the life-changing and terrible sight they’re about to discover: lifeless bodies piled one on top of each other, frozen in death as they tried to flee. All the adult members of the Ark, the cult that lived on the farm, are dead apart from Romy who was in the infirmary unable to walk, listening
Rachel Sargeant
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the author’s previous novels were psychological thrillers that didn’t shy away from graphic and visceral detail, The Poison Garden is even harder hitting as well as more literary. You know you’re in for a disturbing read when an apparently stereotypical police procedural prologue descends into a scene reminiscent of the Allies entering a concentration camp at the end of the Second World War.
After the prologue, the main narrator is Romy, the sole adult survivor of a cult that lived on a
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a3e, 2019, a2, january, little-brown
3.5 rounded up.

Three refugees from a cult find themselves struggling to stay adrift in a strange new world.

The world is definitely coming to an end sometime soon, and only the members of the Ark and her sister compound will survive. Romy has spent almost all her life in the Ark, and her half siblings have grown up there, knowing nothing about the world outside. When disaster strikes and most of the members are poisoned, these three must find a way to live in a brand new world without being
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood is a darkly mesmerizing and suspenseful mystery about the survivors of The Ark, an apocalypse cult.

Following the suicide deaths of the other cult members, twenty-three year old Romy and her half-siblings Eden and Ilo are taken from North Wales back to England. Romy is now living on her own following stints in hospital and a halfway house while Eden and Ilo are placed with their deceased mother's sister, Sarah Byrne. Eden and Ilo are not having an easy
Chelsea | Thriller Book Babe 🔎
Books about cults are my jam! Are they horrible and traumatizing? YES. But this book gave me everything I wanted from The Family Upstairs and more, and I am loving it! This amazing book talks about life before, during, and after a cult, and I couldn’t put it down. Just the idea of the power a cult has over someone is fascinating and uncomfortable.

I felt that Alex Marwood did an amazing job of describing a cult and immersing the reader so they felt that they themselves were part of a cult. You
I’m always excited by Alex Marwood books – she addresses difficult issues sympathetically but unflinchingly. The book is about cults and belief systems, and the toxic effect they can have on people and relationships.
It opens with a gruesome discovery on a remote farm in Wales, when a group of people having been living a communal life, cut off from the outside world, for many years.

Romy is a survivor of this apocalyptic cult who is brought to live among the Dead (the rest of us, who won’t survive
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Poison Garden grabs you from page 1 .
A shocking discovery is made -of what appears to be a Jones like mass suicide in and around the grounds of the head quarters of a cult in rural Wales.
Their main purpose was to prepare for the Apocalypse under the watchful eye of their leader - Lucien
The story is then told from 3 perspectives - Romy one of the survivors - who knows hardly anything about life outside the cult - Somer her mother - and Sarah -Somer's younger sister .
This was my first Alex
Claire Wilson
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood is a gripping thriller that I couldn't put down. When Romy escapes the cult she grew up in, she relies on the support of social workers on the outside world. But Romy is keeping a secret. 4 stars
Andrea Hicks
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Little Brown Group, Alex Marwood and Net Galley for my ARC.
Thoroughly shocking and actually believable. because it could and does happen. This exploration of a cult and the brainwashing of its followers is harrowing. When the survivors made it into the 'real' world it's tempting to believe they have a chance of redemption but the children raised within its confines are nurtured to believe that the rules they follow are the only correct ones. I wasn't expecting the killing spree, and
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Alex Marwood is a former journalist who worked extensively across the British press. Her first novel, The Wicked Girls, achieved widespread acclaim and international bestsellerdom. It was shortlisted for ITW, Anthony and Macavity awards, was included in Stephen King's Ten Best Books of the Year list, and won the prestigious Edgar Award. The Killer Next Door, her second novel, won the coveted ...more

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