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Lies Like Poison

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Riverdale meets Kara Thomas’s The Cheerleaders in this electrifying, twisted thriller about estranged friends who reunite when someone commits the murder they’d planned—but didn’t go through with—and leaves one of their own to take the fall.

Poppy, Lily, and Belladonna would do anything to protect their best friend, Raven. So when they discovered he was suffering abuse at the hands of his stepmother, they came up with a lethal plan: petals of poppy, belladonna, and lily in her evening tea so she’d never be able to hurt Raven again. But someone got cold feet, the plot faded to a secret of the past, and the group fell apart.

Three years later, on the eve of Raven’s seventeenth birthday, his stepmother turns up dead. But it’s only belladonna found in her tea, and it’s only Belladonna who’s carted off to jail. Desperate for help, Belle reaches out to her estranged friends to prove her innocence. They answer the call, but no one is prepared for what comes next.

Now, everyone has something to lose and something equally dangerous to hide. And when the tangled web of secrets and betrayal is finally unwound, what lies at its heart will change the group forever.


First published September 3, 2020

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About the author

Chelsea Pitcher

8 books456 followers
Chelsea Pitcher is a karaoke-singing, ocean-worshipping Oregonian with a penchant for twisty mysteries. She is the author of THE S-WORD, THE LAST CHANGELING & THE LAST FAERIE QUEEN.

Watch for her new YA thriller, THIS LIE WILL KILL YOU, coming December 11, 2018 from S&S/McElderry!

Agent: Mandy Hubbard

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 479 reviews
Profile Image for Tomoe Hotaru.
248 reviews846 followers
November 29, 2020
29 Nov. '20
Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.

A quick read with easy prose. Excellent blurb. Made the book sound 100% much more intriguing than it actually was. Sadly the plot itself was weak and hinged upon many conveniences designed specifically by the author:

(1) The most useless police force in town
From the unsolved robbery of Raven's biological mother, to the now murder of his step-mother. The police have been a negligible force, entering the story only when the plot requires it to be relevant.

Everybody knows that in the death of a spouse, the first place to look is at the current husband/wife, any existing lovers, and previous exes. The fact that the police did neither in both cases and went for the immediate arrest of a teenage girl based on a conveniently placed "murder recipe" left at the scene of the crime . . . I mean, you don't get more gullible than that.

If the police had done what any basic crime investigator would've done from the first murder, none of this would have happened.

(2) The most useless parents in town
This book took the absent parent trope to a new level. If any of the parents in this book were just the tiniest bit responsible or even, I dunno, mature, so many things would never have taken place.

(3) The most unreliable set of narrators you will ever read
And not even particularly well written unreliable narrators.

Unreliable narrators still need to be reliable in how or why they are unreliable. Are they delusional and have a penchant for exaggeration? Are they extremely naive and have a limited way of understanding events that unfold around them? Are they psychologically impaired in some way--psychopaths who are detached from reality? Are they simply just liars by character?
Well-written unreliable narrators are at least consistent in their unreliability. They make you question scenes, other characters, or question their own perception of things.

Lily, Bella, and Jack are none of the above. They are unreliable simply for the bare-bones plot demands a dark, mysterious atmosphere to make up for its otherwise lack of mystery.

Sometimes their unreliability is by omission--hiding information from readers, from each other, and more critically, from themselves. They never once think about or mention key reveals when it is natural for that particular character in that particular train of thought or situation to be thinking about that particular reveal. I don't consider this clever narration, rather deliberate authorial manipulation.

Then sometimes their unreliability is by straight up lying--for example in the case of Belle-vs-Jack, where Belle tells us she saw Jack kissing Raven (who was at that time Belle's love interest), while later in Jack's chapter he is adamantly saying to himself that he never kissed Raven. And then a couple of chapters later, Jack admits to himself (and to us readers) that okay, so I did kiss Raven 🤷🤷🤷
All right, I mean, why lie about it in the first place? Lying about it to yourself, even? Other than to forcefully make us readers question Belle's reliability, that is? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This ping-pong of he-said-she-said between narrators happen consistently throughout the book. The effect is a chaotic whiplash, rather than a budding suspicion of one or more particular characters. If that isn't bad enough, the things they constantly "lie" about or "omit" about each other are absolute garbage non-issues that aren't even relevant to the story (such as whether or not Jack kissed Raven; who spent the night with Belle that day she got arrested; who stole the cookie from the cookie jar; who gives a literary f*ck).

And that is exactly the cherry on top. It's one thing to have unreliable narrators because one of them is the secret killer and you're trying to conceal which one it is. It's quite another to have unreliable narrators but none of them is actually responsible for Evelyn's death. I have never been more gaslit in my life.
Sure, one of them had a hand in procuring the object that ultimately did cause her death, but they did not actually poison her themselves.

(4) Forced drama between main characters
Because God forbid the characters actually talked! to each other honestly and put their heads together!!! If that happened, this book would've been solved within one chapter.

This would have worked if the characters had a reason to be lying to each other and hiding facts from each other. Unfortunately, they did not.

Readers are made to believe Belle would hide things from Jack because she's angry Jack kissed Raven those, what? three years ago?
Except Belle isn't angry at either of them, since she's now with Lily and have gotten over it, as proven by the fact that she had actually prepared to frame Jack using the exact same tactics (killing Evelyn using poppy and leaving an incriminating note at the scene), but then didn't go through with it. So why does she, in the narrative, actually keep hiding things from Jack?

Readers are made to believe Belle and Lily would be hiding things from each other, because they (according to Jack) hated each other. Except they don't since they're actually having a secret relationship.

And then there's Jack, who's hiding things from everyone except the only thing that Jack turns out to be hiding has nothing to do with the actual murder of Evelyn so why the fuck did that stop him from ever just sitting down with Lily and laying everything out together from the beginning?

The only believable explanation as to why they didn't sit together and chat is because they suspect each other as being the killer and trying to frame one another.
Which would not have happened if Belle had just told Jack she had been with Lily the night Evelyn was murdered (something Belle has no reason hiding, especially if it would clear her lover from being a potential murder suspect).

Lily has no reason to suspect Jack as being the killer, since she knows full well who took the belladonna from Bella's garden. Seeing Jack burning Raven's clothes was no reason to suspect him as a killer, since stealing Raven's clothes three years ago has nothing to do with Evelyn's murder today. Besides, she knows Jack even lied to provide an alibi for Belle, risking arrest himself. Why would he do that if he had framed Belle in the first place?

Anyway, in the end, everything was so convoluted and just a tiny bit forced, which really took away from the full immersion of the story. The actual turn of events itself managed to be both predictable and disappointing. Predictable as in you know it's always a love interest. Disappointing as in one of the "villains" turns out to be a character who was introduced in the, I wanna say, last 35% of the book.
It all just gave me Pretty Little Liars vibes, and not in a good way. Forced tension, forced drama, a whole convoluted mess with little actual substance and unnecessary romantic intrigue to pad up the pages.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews190 followers
February 19, 2023
Great rainbow representation in this YA murder mystery and I loved the premise but there were too many 'reveals' in this one to find it plausible. You know how a writer lays down threads in a story that they then craftily weave together in a way that feels seamless to readers? This felt someone was grasping onto 100 different length and weighted threads and aggressively poking them here, there and everywhere to create a rustic and holey floor rug. I loved the twisted fairy-tale vibe though so kept reading. Just okay for me.

Profile Image for Angela Staudt.
373 reviews107 followers
October 25, 2020
Thank you NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting. I loved how it was based around this mystery of who murdered someone, but also about four queer best friends who would do absolutely anything for each other. We have Belladonna, Poppy (Jack), Lily, and Raven who we get a perspective of and for the first half of this book they are completely unreliable characters. So, you don’t know who to believe and who is actually telling the truth. Lily’s mom married Raven’s dad and she is the evil stepmother in everyone’s eyes. Even her own daughter Lily can’t stand her mom. One day Belladonna, Jack, and Lily come up with a plan to kill her because she is slowly killing Raven. They don’t go through with it and quit being friends because of it. Later in life, the step mother is killed and it is with the flower Belladonna, which was part of the plan years ago. Belladonna is accused of murder and the friends have to come back together and solve who really murdered the stepmother.

While this was focused on the murder mystery, it also dealt with mental health and had such amazing queer characters with huge depth to them all. We see them overcome what society expects them to be and being their own person, and they all have a story to tell in this book. I had so many emotions while reading this because I became connected to all of the characters and felt for what a horrible life they have all had growing up. How they rely on each other for strength to get through their toughest days. It was a very powerful book and the characters were all so deeply written.

I loved how atmospheric this book was and how we have so many different perspectives that it is a whirlwind to read. You can’t trust a single character in the beginning because all of their whereabouts the night the step mother was murdered contradict each other, and they have all have secrets to tell. I seriously was shocked with all the twists and have to admit this was a really good YA thriller. I didn’t expect who the killer was, and it completely made sense. It wasn’t someone who would have been unbelievable, and I like when thrillers have a realistic ending.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
646 reviews243 followers
February 2, 2023
Children pretending to be in a fairytale, brutally awoken years later when someone turns up dead from their games. Lies Like Poison was one of the rare books that had a synopsis I couldn’t resist, and I wasn’t disappointed with the dark atmosphere and twisted backstories. While I can see how people had their qualms about the actual murder mystery, these character were more than enough to make up for anywhere the plot faltered (which, in my opinion, it hardly did). For a 300 page book, Lies Like Poison manages to pack a great punch. Friendships fall apart, though they can also come back stronger than before, which was a trope beautiful executed between these four protagonists.

~★~ What is Lies Like Poison about? ~★~

Poppy, Lily and Belladonna grew up cherishing imagined fairytales, though their fantasies begin to break apart when they discover their best friend Raven being abused by his stepmother. They’d do anything to help him, and end up planning to murder his stepmom by steeping a flower from each of their names into her tea—belladonna being fatal. The plan is called off last minute, but years later after the four have drifted apart, Raven’s stepmom is found dead next to a note detailing the ‘perfect recipe for murder’ from when they were kids. The strange thing is that only belladonna was found in her drink, and so only Belladonna gets taken to jail. The sudden rekindling of their past forces Poppy, Lily and Raven to uncover what really happened, and who could have framed Belladonna for murder.

────── {⋆★⋆} ──────

I expected this story to be a heavily plot based, but found myself pleasantly surprised by how character-focused a lot of it was. Raven, Lily, Poppy (who goes by Jack) and Belladonna’s friendship is in such a strained place when the book kicks off, making it really intriguing when more snippets of their past together gets revealed. All three narrators are unreliable, which certainly boosts the entertainment factor in a murder mystery like this one. Belladonna, Lily and Jack are each cunning in their own way, with Raven the centre of attention in a lot of the drama that unfolds. The dynamic between Raven and Jack made my heart melt, while Belladonna and Lily’s chemistry got my heart pumping for similar reasons. This ends up being the journey of four queer kids stifled by terrible parental figures, and I found that their individual journeys unravel beautifully.

The really low rating is what shocked me most about this book. I read some reviews before picking it up, and tried to seek out the faults everyone mentioned while reading. The only clear problems I agreed with were the sheer incompetency of the police force in this mystery, and fact that pretty much every adult in this story is an asshole. Either way, the central focus was on these teens and their journey towards finding family in one another, so I hardly noticed the faults in the plot. Every bit of the atmosphere and narration captivated me; I’m really glad to have picked this one up!
117 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2020
It took three months to receive but I understand the circumstances. Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. It was supposed to be for young adults, 14 and over. The story was way too weird for any age group. It was a murder mystery. By the time I finished, I couldn't care less who did it. The characters were hidious. I hated everyone in this book. I won't even pass it along to others. Maybe just put it in a Little Library.
Profile Image for Sasha.
399 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2020
Like Like Poison was a twisted contemporary fairytale with exciting twists and centring around the friendship between four kids who would do anything for each other.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was an exciting thriller with four queer main characters, a m/m and f/f romance and discussing abuse, trauma and other topics. It was full of exciting reveals, morally grey characters and most importantly queer found family!!
The first two thirds of Lies Like Poison, were a little messy. The pacing and reveals were kind of disjointed, and I wasn’t fully enjoying it. But the last third really saved the book, where it got so exhilarating and full of reveals I didn’t expect!! This was where we really saw the soft queer found family content I had been craving, and more of my favourite characters. I really wish the whole book had been more like the last third.
I think I would have preferred this book if Belladonna was the main character rather than Jack. She had the most distinct voice of the three, and I adored her badass and witchy vibes, plus she’s a bisexual icon. I do feel all of the characters could have done with a bit more depth, but I did really like them. Belle who is ruthless and fiercely caring, Jack who is protective and loving, Lily who is badass and learning to love herself and Raven who they would all do anything to keep safe.
The writing is stunning at times, and very poignant. It gave the whole book a lot of atmosphere, and I loved how Lies Like Poison had fairytale aspects and hints woven among the twisted and murderous plot. The tangled storylines were super intriguing, and I really like the unreliable narrator aspects, where characters keep things hidden even when it’s their POV! This takes skill to do and I enjoyed how there were was constantly threads niggling at the story until it came together at the end. It was an intense story with many interconnected parts including flashbacks, confessions and secrets, twists and turns.
A favourite aspect of mine was how the theme of being caged or trapped was one we could see in every character’s storylines in the material plot also tie into the characters being queer and their journeys with that. Their identity’s as queer aren’t super discussed apart from Jack’s, which is great cause it’s just like “we’re here, we’re queer, we might have committed murder”, but there is a lot of subtext. I felt the story was woven with queer coding and with overall themes that are inextricably linked to the queer experience.
One thing that I did not like was how Jack being a trans boy was almost a plot twist. I already knew as the author told me the rep in the book, and I found that this being a surprise wasn’t great.
Some aspects of Lies Like Poison felt rather unrealistic but the magical atmosphere makes the whole book feel a little out of this world, so while fans of a grounded mystery may not love this, readers who prefer something fabulist and mystical with thriller aspects are sure to fall for it.

I was going to give this 3 stars when I was 2/3 in bc the pacing and reveals were kinda disjointed and it was all a bit messy but the last third saved the book, it was wonderful and exhilarating and exciting and full of reveals and I finally got the lilybella content I needed, and it was so soft and found family-ish MMMM I would have given the last third five stars!!!!
overall I really enjoyed this, it was an exciting thriller with 4 queer main characters, a m/m and a f/f romance, discussing abuse and with exciting reveals, morally grey characters and most importantly QUEER FOUND FAMILY >>>
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,285 reviews216 followers
November 16, 2020

I don’t know what LIES LIKE POISON was pretending to be, but it missed the mark by a long shot for me. Chelsea Pitcher’s blurbs always sound more interesting than my enjoyment of them.
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,704 reviews286 followers
April 29, 2021
This book had all the makings of a great book - childhood friends, a murder, and a mystery. But sadly, it just all fell flat to me. I couldn't relate to any of the characters and everything just felt over dramatic and forced.

The story follows 4 childhood friends: Poppy, Lily, Belladonna and Raven. But while they all felt like they were the best of friends, it turns out there were secrets upon secrets that only carried over into their present day lives. And when Raven's stepmother ends up dead, a long ago murder pact shines an unfortunate light on the group.

I love murder mysteries. But this one really lacked the mystery. It just got so convoluted with everyone's side stories that it just became weighed down with drama. By the end of the story I really didn't care what happened to everyone as they were all so bland. The big reveal wasn't a shocker and so that also fell flat to me. It just seemed like the author had too many ideas and didn't really know how to cut any of them out so she just threw them all in whether they made sense or not...

But I see a lot of people that loved this book, so this might just be me.
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
747 reviews348 followers
February 20, 2021
“The wickedest monsters know better than to leave footprints.”

~ Full review to come. ~


🌼 Blurb:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Significant Other: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐☆☆☆☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

☁FINAL VERDICT: 2.45/5 ☁
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,458 reviews144 followers
December 8, 2020
❐ Overall Rating 2 | Narration 5
❐ YA Mystery

How can a book have such wonderfully atmospheric narration and rate so low with me.??? Good question. I wanted to like this and I really tried to do so but it missed the mark for me, story-wise. I really found most of the story to be rather unbelievable and very reminiscent of the show Riverdale...basically a hot mess.

❐ Libby Listen through my Library
❐ Length ➯ 7H 54M
Profile Image for Gavin.
855 reviews386 followers
September 14, 2021
This was an enjoyable YA thriller. It was a contemporary thriller/mystery story which is not always my go to genre but this managed to hold my attention and was pretty fast paced and definitely managed to keep me guessing.

The story followed four friends as one of them had just been arrested after being accused of killing the parent of another one of the group. From there we got a glimpse into the lives of the four main characters and learned how they all had motives of their own for wanting the murder victim dead!

It was an engaging story and filled with enough mystery and twists and turns to keep things exciting. The characters were a sufficiently complicated bunch and that left me wondering about them as potential suspects!

All in all this was a fun YA thriller.

Rating: 3.5 stars. I’ll round up to 4 stars.

Audio Note: The narration was split between Emmett Grosland, Emily Ellet, Amanda Dolan, Kevin Free. They did a character each and it worked OK.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,785 reviews289 followers
December 5, 2020
Years ago there were three best friends and a stepsister - Poppy, Raven, Belladonna, and Lily. Poppy and Bella both cared deeply for their friend Raven and then when tragedy struck and he lost his mother, they thought he would be happy - that was until he got an evil stepmother Evelyn and then a stepsister Lily. The stepsister was a little odd but not as bad as Raven's stepmother whom Poppy and Bella were convinced she was abusing and trying to get Raven to kill himself. During this time, the three girls made a recipe for the perfect murder - a petal of poppy, a petal of belladonna, and a petal of a lily. An accident occurred and one of the three got cold feet and then the plan fell apart and so did their friendship. Now three years later, Evelyn is found murdered and the cause is a petal of Belladonna in her tea and the recipe left sitting on the kitchen counter. Raven is back and everything is messed up as Bella is sitting in a cell accused of the murder which of course she is innocent, but if Bella didn't do it and only the group of friends knew about the recipe and the MO - who killed Evelyn and setting Bella up to take the fall? What other secrets will be revealed in the group of friends as the murder investigation will unravel other secrets and truths the friends have been trying to keep close to their chests. Lies Like Poison by Chelsea Pitcher was a great YA thriller filled with lots of twists and turns and an easy read and be surprised when the "real" killer is revealed like I was.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,275 reviews280 followers
December 18, 2020
[ARC Provided by NetGalley, my review is unbiased]
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📗 I was expecting this story to be much like the many other murder mystery books I've read, with contemporary characters and high school secrets. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this this is actually a dark, gothic story about two boys, two girls, obsession and family secrets.

📘 I really liked the LGBT rep in this story, with queer and transgender characters represented extremely well. This is as much a story about Jack, Lily, Belle and Raven discovering new aspects of themselves as it is about the murder mystery.

📕 There's a lot of red herrings towards the end of the book, and I didn't quite guess who the killer was. I think every character in the book was a suspect at some point, and it was interesting to see scenes replayed over again from a new POV as the mystery unraveled itself.

📙 The characters were the driving force of this strange story, and I fell in love with all of them. They're all flawed characters, each hiding their own dark secrets and I loved the character growth from when they were children to when they were older teens, and the ending that brings them all together is one of my favourites.
Profile Image for Victoria.
910 reviews94 followers
June 2, 2022
Yeah I don’t think this author is for me…at all. The plots and ideas are just so good and I really really want to love them but something in the execution seems to keep falling flat.

The narrators in this book were the most unreliable annoying people ever. Now I love a good unreliable narrator but man these characters were lying to not only the reader or each other but to themselves! They were just causing drama where drama wasn’t even there, like if they didn’t lie to themselves bam problem done away.

Also the ending? Wtf was that lmao. There’s predictable and haha I suspected you then there’s whatever that was.

2.5* bc I did really like the concept again like the last one I read, it just wasn’t executed in a very good way…
Profile Image for Ev.
18 reviews
March 10, 2022
I love the lgbtq+ inclusion in this book. I wasn’t expecting it and i really love it
Profile Image for kinereads.
116 reviews22 followers
March 6, 2022
I did not like this book very much. The book wasn’t interesting enough and I didn’t like the plot or the characters. I just didn’t care after a few chapters in, suddenly I wasn’t as curious to find out who killed her.. There wasn’t a lot of depth to the characters and it felt messy. There was just a lot missing for me to enjoy this book.

The ending was weird, how can they suddenly become a family after years of hating each other, trying to frame each other, lying and just acting like that.

I feel like 2 stars are generous, but there were moments where I thought this was about to turn good or at least enjoyable but no, not really.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Maria.
759 reviews20 followers
December 14, 2020
DNF at 60%.
Not really bad, but I really don't care at all 😅
Profile Image for Sarah {The Clever Reader}.
508 reviews76 followers
November 9, 2020
3.5 Rounded to 4 Stars

Four friends, one person dead, and a recipe of murder. Chelsea Pitcher’s new YA Mystery Lies Like Poison will keep you on your toes.

This mystery is told in 4 POV’s. When Poppy, Belladonna, Raven, and Lily plan the murder of Raven’s step-mother three years earlier they’d never thought it’d actually happen. So much has changed in three years and now all of them are suspect.

The pacing was a little slower than I was anticipating and the plot was confusing for the first half of the book. I think this is what I struggled with the most and why I rated it a 3.5 star. I’m not sure if it had to do with the multiple POV’s or the writing style.

Overall I did think the plot, once clearer, was really interesting. This does have some triggers related to murder and child abuse. It had a really well developed LGBTQ+ rep which I was refreshing to see in a YA Mystery. If you’re in the mood for a slower YA Mystery than I think you’d enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Karen Barber.
2,479 reviews59 followers
August 25, 2020
What a tangled web of lies and deceit these pages revealed...thank you to the publishers, Simon Schuster, and NetGalley for letting me read this prior to publication.
Poppy, Lily and Belladonna are our focus for this story and everything hinges on their relationship to Raven, their best friend. It isn’t immediately clear how this group formed or the reason for the dynamics between them - but we know they have a shared history, and would do anything to protect each other.
Our story opens with a body, that of Raven’s stepmother, being found. She has been poisoned with leaves of belladonna placed in her tea. There’s a recipe, written in fourteen year old Bella’s handwriting, on the table next to her that outlines the perfect poison. It would seem that Bella came good on her vow to protect her best friend Raven from his abusive stepmother.
It all seems clear-cut, but then things start unravelling. Poppy - who now calls herself Jack - claims Bella was with her on the night of the murder. The police don’t believe her as Poppy was the one who first went to the police years ago with claims that Raven’s stepmother was hurting him. She is told to go away and think about her story...and determines to work out what happened.
We have our story split into three distinct parts - the truth according to Bella, Jack and then Lily. As we read each story we unpick the various deceits these characters (and those around them) have told, and learn more about the complex background of each.
There was a fairytale quality to this story, and while it focuses on murder it also charts the journey each character has towards acceptance of themselves and their situation. Mercurial in tone, constantly shifting and leaving us with a sense of uncertainty, this was a story that delivered a lot more than it promised. I can’t wait to see what others make of it.
Profile Image for Lu .
343 reviews34 followers
July 29, 2020
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. Thank you, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books, for the chance to read Lies like Poison.

TW; abusive relationships, beating, anorexia, suicidal thoughts


Poppy, Lily and Belladonna are ready to do anything to protect their friend, (in Lily's case, stepbrother= from Evelyn, his stepmother, who is abusing and torturing him. So they came up with a plan: petals of lily, poppy, belladonna in her tea, so she will die poisoned and will stop hurting him. But someone refused to go through with the plan, Raven was sent to boarding school and the group feel apart.
Three years later, though, Evelyn is found dead, with belladonna found in her tea and Belladonna is arrested. Desperate to prove her innocence, Belladonna reaches out to her estranged friends. But when they start to uncover the truth, they won't be ready to face what will they discover.

Told by four POVs, Lies like Poison is a brilliant and twisted thriller, where, until the very end the reader doesn't know the whole truth. Full of plot twists, confessions, lies, flashbacks and POVs swinging back and forth, Chelsea Pitcher created an intense story, with wonderful and complex character, each of them with their problems, secrets and lies, after being separated for three years. Rage, resentment, revenge, love, friendship, fear, everything is mixed in this story.

Being caged and trapped is one of the main theme in Lies like poison and each character feels that in his/her own way.

Lily is Evelyn's daughter, abused and sent away by her own mother, full of rage and desire to be free and herself, afraid of herself and in her body because of her mother's manipulations and abuses, abandoned by her stepfather and craving her own father's presence, trying to find out who and where he is.

After years in foster care, Belladonna was adopted by a rich man, Edwin, whose obsession in keeping her safe and away from the dangers of the world resulted in bolting her windows closes and keeping her away from everything, transforming her castle into a gilded cage

Jack has always took care of her own family, her brothers, while her mother was busy with drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, constantly abusing her psycologically, wanting her to be in a certain way, dress in a certain way and Jack was scared to be fully the boy she knows to be, because she was afraid to lose the brothers and family.

(FYI, I've used the pronouns she/her because I didn't want to spoiler anyone and because the author used, almost until the end these pronouns, until Jack is ready to be true to HIMself)

Raven was struck down with grief, after losing his mother and seeing her being killed and, abused by his own stepmother, was only able to escape in his games of knights, princes and witches, while battling dark thoughts and depression.

Evelyn's death is the cornerstone of the book, bringing Jack, Raven, Lily and Belladonna again together, forcing them to investigate her murder, in order to clear's one other's name, and to confront their feelings for each other.

Lies like poison deals with trans and LGBT rep and interesting and complex themes, like murder, poisoning, abuse, abusive parents, with well written and structured characters. Lily, Jack, Belladonna and Raven are fierce, stubborn and loyal, ready to do anything to defend their own family and each other. Wonderful is the theme of family, found in friends and the fierceness of characters into Lies like poison.

I recommend this book to those who crave for a complex and twisted thriller, where the reader is so involved into the investigation he/she/they can't stop reading until the end. I devoured this book!
Profile Image for Evidently Bookish.
51 reviews16 followers
September 4, 2020
provisional rating: 3.5 stars? might change to 4 after some contemplation. loved the queer rep ofc but the plot wasn't the strongest, a bit predictable for my tastes. the writing is gorgeous at times - crushingly poignant - but the characterisations fall flat for the majority of the book. full review to come.
Profile Image for Chloe⛅.
308 reviews10 followers
August 29, 2020
Triggers: loss of a parent, mention of neglect, abuse, mentions of self harm and wanting to commit suicide, inpatient treatment, substance abuse, being kicked out for being gay

“The wickedest monsters know better than to leave footprints”

Okay I definitely wasn’t planning on reading this book all in one go but I could not put it down, I was intrigued from the start and just had to know what happened and I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

I thought the characters were so complex and interesting as well as a little bit over the top and very catty😂😂 my heart ached for all of the teens and kids in this story because they all went through such horrific things and I wanted to hug them all. And Jack, oh my god, I’m really happy with the way that the author handled Jack and his identity and the way they changed the pronouns when he was comfortable with himself felt so comforting to me.

The plot of this was kind of confusing at times but it had me hooked from the absolute start to the end and I didn’t have any trouble following along once I properly got into it but at the start I was like wait what?😂

I think this is truly such a solid YA thriller and I’m glad that I picked it up and have the authors other book on my shelf because reading this really made me want to dive into that one head first too!

thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review, my opinions are all my own and quotes may change in the final copy!
Profile Image for Gina Adams.
574 reviews46 followers
August 14, 2020
Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an early copy!

This read like something from 2012 but with queer rep.
Which I mean, queer rep, but...

This is one of those books where all the characters are in love with each other, some platonically, some romantically, some were platonic and now they’re romantic, some were romantic and now they’re platonic... which ya know, I’m sure that’s representative of plenty of friend groups, but it doesn’t always connect with me.

Also for a lot of the book everyone is kind of plotting against each other anyway? I will say that I can guarantee you that you will not solve the mystery, at the very least not in the first half. Unexpected is nice in a mystery/thriller but it doesn’t always equal smart.

There’s some weird stuff with gendering a trans character in this story - it’s a FTM trans boy and up until the second he physically says out loud that he’s a boy, he’s gendered as “she” in the story. It’s definitely not my place to say, since I’m not a part of that community, but it didn’t necessarily sit right with me. I will say everyone is completely respectful of him after and there’s nothing bad that comes to him for being trans but still that’s something I’d check ownvoices reviews about to make sure.

There’s great consent in this story as well as a gentle male love interest and discussion about girls being willing to kill each other for boys (both romantically and like, brothers and male friends, etc) but not willing to fight for themselves in the same fiery way. I really appreciate those elements of the story. It’s just not enough to make the story meaningful to me, to make the ending any less rushed, or make me care about the characters any more.
Profile Image for Bella Marie.
111 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2021
i didn’t really like lies like poison. it was really dark and twisted which is not at all what i usually like to read. as the book went on i did get more invested to see who actually killed Evelyn, but towards the end of the book i really didn’t care anymore. I also guessed from the get-go who killed Evelyn and called most of the ‘plot twists’ throughout the book (such as the tape recorder). don’t really recommend.
Profile Image for christine anne .
31 reviews
August 22, 2022
Hm… I don’t know how to feel about this book really?? it’s not HORRIBLE but it’s definitely not the best book i’ve read yk. like it’s got a decent plot, and definitely has some plot twists if you will, but I can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed at the ending?? idk It just didn’t like STAND OUT to me?? 😭😭😭 but overall this was quite an easy read with interesting characters!
Profile Image for Lily.
168 reviews
December 21, 2020
this book was boring, made literally no sense and just stupid 😀its so boring, the mystery is forgotten all the time in favour of unneeded backstory that isnt even important to the plot. this book should be locked up for killing my braincells, thank you new york 🦧
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