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Poisons of Caux #1

The Hollow Bettle

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Introducing a witty and macabre new fantasy trilogy.

There's little joy left in the kingdom of Caux: the evil King Nightshade rules with terrible tyranny and the law of the land is poison or be poisoned. Worse, eleven-year-old Ivy’s uncle, a famous healer, has disappeared, and Ivy sets out to find him, joined by a young taster named Rowan. But these are corrupt times, and the children—enemies of the realm—are not alone. What exactly do Ivy and Rowan’s pursuers want? Is it Ivy’s prized red bettle, which, unlike any other gemstone in Caux, appears—impossibly—to be hollow? Is it the elixir she concocted—the one with the mysterious healing powers? Or could it be Ivy herself?

Told with wry humor, The Hollow Bettle is the first installment in the Poisons of Caux trilogy, an astonishing tale of herbs and magic, tasters and poisoners.

399 pages, Hardcover

First published August 11, 2009

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About the author

Susannah Appelbaum

7 books66 followers
Susannah Appelbaum realized at an early age that the world contains both good and evil—and she wanted nothing more than to write about it. By day, she does so. The night is reserved for keeping the world safe from shadows and demons. She has lived both in Paris and at the Carlyle hotel, where the service is exquisite and the food is never burnt. Susannah resides in New York’s Hudson Valley and is the critically acclaimed author of the Poisons of Caux series.

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5 stars
104 (23%)
4 stars
128 (28%)
3 stars
151 (33%)
2 stars
49 (10%)
1 star
17 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Sps.
592 reviews8 followers
June 12, 2010
Review book. For ages 10-12.
While the action moves forward reasonably well, and the premise is interesting, the problems with prose and characterization make me give this a thumbs-down. We’re told that Ivy likes poisons better than healing, but then she spends the rest of the book—and presumably the rest of the series—happily fulfilling the Prophecy of the Noble Child by healing people, becoming outraged when people are poisoned, and working against the culture of poisoning. Kirkus Reviews* got it in one: the plot is unoriginal, the prose is way too pleased with itself, and the anti-disability language is egregiously awful. That last complaint is tricky, I know: plenty of books in library collections have language that will offend *someone*. However, this book consistently and unnecessarily makes a connection between ugliness, disability, and evil in a way that would just be horrid for any kid who actually has a physical disability. E.g. whenever the king’s clubfoot is mentioned, it’s always described in terms like “horribly disfigured” (287) or “monstrous” (172). Meanwhile the king’s deaf, wheelchair-using brother is “a gluttonous lump” (115). It’s mean-spirited, and there’s enough of it that I wouldn’t ever actively give this to a kid while doing readers’ advisory. Clearly many professional reviewers found the anti-disability language either subtle or harmless, and other youth librarians also may feel this is a worthy choice. For me, I wouldn’t add it to my collection when there are plenty of better fantasy-adventure books out there.

So, the free speech lover in me hesitates to recommend against purchasing just because I disagree with the author's opinions about disabilities. But the critic in me feels fine about rejecting it due to its literary shortcomings.

*KR said: "A clever premise drowns in ostentatious prose....its gleefully showy prose suffocates itself with countless clauses and modifiers, ungraspable descriptions ('Her crown shone evilly'), repugnant disability stereotypes, and an overdependence on the word 'odd.'"
Profile Image for max theodore.
443 reviews120 followers
November 7, 2020
the part of me that is still eight years old will always, i think, be a little bit extremely furious that everybody slept on this children’s series. everyone SHUT UP about HARRY POTTER. where’s my poisons of caux movie. where’s my poisons of caux extended universe. this book shaped my childhood, a substantial amount of my interests, and my entire fiction-writing path. i’m going to SHAKE you.

you don’t understand; the worldbuilding in this book is SO good. don’t even talk to me. don’t TALK to me. it is SO. GOOD. this book? built different. even as a little kid reading this for the first time i could notice that caux went about its worldbuilding a little differently. never do you get everything about the land of caux spelled out to you at once; rather, it’s parceled out in bits on a need-to-know basis, bits that are embedded into the story so neatly, and with such a feeling of “well of course; that makes sense” that you kind of feel like you knew it already, or like it’s filling in gaps that you didn’t realize needed to be filled. (for example: the title of the book is the hollow bettle. what’s a bettle? well, it's 1. a magical gemstone with healing properties and 2. integrated into the story so simply and nonchalantly that i genuinely had to google it to find out if it were a real thing and not a fantasy worldbuilding detail. which - it is the second thing. for the record. it is)

imo what's different about it is that the narrative takes its readers very seriously. it’s one of those children’s books that doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of the children reading it. which might also be why the narration is so HYSTERICAL oh my GOD. i saw it described as similar in tone to ASOUE, but a little less dark, and, like. yeah. honest to god. it’s not lemony snicket, but it’s like lemony snicket for weird little kids who smushed up berries in the backyard to make “potions” and read exclusively high fantasy. me. i’m weird little kids. i love coming back to books i read a decade ago and realizing that they’re actually well-done on a technical level along with everything else; like, i want what susannah appelbaum has in terms of prose.

honestly? everything about this book is immaculate. the characters? the WAY i imprinted on ivy and rowan when i was eight, bruv. this book said “here’s your main character. she’s eleven and likes to cause problems on purpose and would like to poison people but loves her family incredibly fiercely. her new best friend is an incompetent mess of a child who deserves better in every conceivable way. go, fetch” and i was GONE. shoutout also to clothilde and vidal verjouce for living in my head RENT FREE for TEN YEARS -- all of these characters have, to some degree, but those two in particular are genuinely iconic. (i definitely have written “real vidal verjouce vibes yknow” in one of my personal writing documents.) you know what else is iconic? every single scene in this book oh my god. the CLIMAX?? with the DINNER PARTY?? and the TAPESTRIES??? i’ll go insane right here DON’T try me

i will say that the one big flaw is that the representation in this book has not aged well. having all of the disabled characters be villains is… not a great look. (particularly the narrative around king nightshade’s clubfoot made me uncomfortable on this reread; i know next to nothing about clubfoots so i can’t go into detail but the disgust around it felt callous. i’m not sure how to feel about vidal because yeah his blindness is seen as pretty horrifying but and at least he uses reasonable accommodations and etc? would be more comfortable w his portrayal if, again, all the disabled characters weren’t villains.)

that said, i’m still going to rank this book five stars. mostly to make up for how i am still mad that it isn’t a hundred times more famous; i’ve never met another living person who’s read it, despite my best efforts to recommend it. (SHUT UP ABOUT HARRY POTTER! THIS IS A POISONS OF CAUX STAN ACCOUNT!) also just because of… the tremendous impact it had on me. i knew going into my reread that this book 1) influenced my writing very heavily and 2) got me into victorian flower language, but i didn’t realize until i was rereading just HOW much it changed me as a person, like… the CROWS… the WORLDBUILDING… the LIVING FOREST… the friendship between ivy and rowan… can i shout out clothilde again specifically… the taster’s guild… the VICTORIAN FLOWER LANGUAGE. figurative godmother of so much of my fiction. so much. what would my writing today look like if i had not seen the cover as a child and gone “ooh pretty crow.”

tl;dr: high quality book, almost entirely perfect, if my brain had a shelf this book would be on it, i’ll scream right here don’t test me

(postscript/addendum: there’s a running joke in my family that the caux trilogy is cursed, because when i was nine/ten i read it two summers in a row, and both summers my reread coincided with something bad happening to me. first appendicitis, then me jumping out of a tree and breaking my arm. and now here i am reading it again in the great dumpster fire that is 2020. i raise you: poisons of caux curse catalyst for destiel canon and putin rumors??? discuss.)
Profile Image for Miss Clark.
2,531 reviews197 followers
October 18, 2009
Possibly verging on a 2.5

It was very confusing and jumped around. By the end, I was not materially any closer to understanding the story or what the characters were actually doing or who they were than in the beginning. Really, one of the poorest opening chapters for clarity that I have read in a looooooong time.And while I wanted to like Ivy, and the other two main characters, I found them flat. The dialogue did not sparkle, the characters did not invite you in, and darned if the plot did not confuse the heck out of me.

That said, I liked the premise, with poison rife and everyone afraid to eat. The description of the morale and the weather reminded me strongly of that of the country in The Tale of Desperoux. The characters had potential. And Appelbaum has a good prose style, with good flair for adjectives and verbs, and descriptions. If she could simply work on character and personality, as well as make the plot more accessible, I might actually read the rest of the books in the series. As of right now, I don't see myself finishing it unless I hear good things about future installments.
Profile Image for Moshe.
7 reviews7 followers
January 1, 2011
I am fortunate enough to have attended a live reading of "The Hollow Bettle" (I live in New York's Hudson Valley) and, to answer the quirkily-doubtful reviewers above, I have seen *first-hand* the enthusiasm of young readers (aged around 10 years old) who apparently had NO trouble whatsoever reading, comprehending, and loving Ivy's adventures. They monopolized the Q&A session with observations and questions!

Perhaps some reviewers should give Caux's target audience more credit...
Profile Image for Sensitivemuse.
522 reviews31 followers
November 30, 2011
What I really liked was the world building. The journey Rowan and Ivy go through was well described and their encounters with different characters was well done. I loved the different settings and their adventure seemed to get even more exciting as the book was nearing to a close. How the setting came about, and the introduction to this story was well done. I liked how the setting was established, with a nice concise history on how King Nightshade came about. It’s almost told in a fairy tale narrative - which was well done, and there were plenty of witty phrases to enjoy (all throughout the novel as well). The idea of the bettles are interesting, but what I really liked was that the use of poison was all over the place in this land. It was different and I thought it was rather clever, definitely something you don’t see in a lot of fantasy middle grade fiction out there.

The characters in this book were also well done. Ivy and Rowan do make an interesting team. The plot was good, although a little slow moving at first. However once Ivy and Rowan teamed up on their journey, it got more interesting thanks to the different settings described, and the various memorable characters they encounter on their journey (Poppy really stood out! I thought it was cute).

The idea of this book is a creative one. It’s told with a nice whimsical flair to it, but it took a while to get used to this style of writing. I’m not sure why, but the pace seemed slower and with the writing style (perhaps it was a little too whimsical) the book just seemed to go at a snail’s pace. That being said though, I still thought it was an enjoyable book and it does pick up the pace after a third of the story. I’ll probably continue this series, I’d like to know what happens next, yet I’m not really in a rush to read it. I’d say take it or leave it with this book.
Profile Image for Maris Bave.
211 reviews14 followers
March 6, 2018
While I enjoyed this jaunt into a simple middle-grade story where I didn't really have to think about anything, I wasn't super impressed by it. The worldbuilding was confusing and showed a deep lack of imagination and forethought. I could not tell what time period it was set in, for example, because while many midevil stereotypes were there, there were also trains. But no mention of electricity? No automobiles? (A mountain rage called the Craggy Burls? Are you serious?)

The premise of poisoning your enemies' food went better than I expected, because it was not clear at the beginnning that poison appears to be a weapon of the rich and/or the well-educated, not every schmuck who knows what a skull-and-crossbones label means. However, it was still a little implausable. There were plenty of other, smaller, and yet more confusing plot holes as well, such as a scene in which it appears Axle knew Clothilde from a while ago, even though he clearly didn't beforehand?

Still, I kept reading and I didn't want to strangle any of the characters by the end, though I still dont' understand what side Clothilde is on or what exactly her relationship to the good king is.

2 reviews
December 31, 2010
Its about time someone brought back an intelligent read full of imagery and wonderful characters! I loved this book for myself and my child.... I am currently reading the second of the trilogy now and it only gets better! Recommended for all.
Profile Image for Skye (Skye's Scribblings).
1,008 reviews59 followers
October 2, 2017
2.5 Stars. While a seriously wandering and inconstant read, this was a relatively interesting and magical story that hit the spot for my "young and magical" craving. Think I'll even give the second book a try someday.
Profile Image for Cory.
190 reviews
July 20, 2012
1.5 I dragged myself through this because I wanted to love it, but the pacing was weird, the characters were flat, and it just. didn't. work.
1,554 reviews6 followers
September 9, 2017
As I started The Hollow Bettle, I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to enjoy it. It seemed the type of quirky that I don’t like, the type of quirky to cover up mediocre plot and characters, the type of quirky that seems self-indulgent and unnecessary.

However, as the story wore on, I started to enjoy myself more and more. The world is pretty interesting, and even though the major plot trope is unoriginal, the setting and the characters themselves are intriguing enough to carry through. I wasn’t really a fan of the bouncing viewpoints or the narrator interposing his/herself for the sole purpose of suspense, but Ivy and Rowan grew on me over time, even if some of their fights started and ended abruptly.

The ending of the book was also good, if just a teensy bit convenient and a whole lot confusing. I’m not sure if the events warranted what happened and the thing with King Nightshade at the end was particularly difficult to swallow, if only because it seemed so abrupt and didn’t seem to follow from the events that occurred. However, Appelbaum manages the difficult task of both wrapping up the book and also leaving lots of things in suspense, without relying solely on a Wam! cliffhanger ending.

The Hollow Bettle is a little bit amateurish and clumsy, especially in terms of the plot and occasionally the interaction between the characters, but it is interesting and, eventually, endearing despite its flaws. The quirkiness grew on me and the end of the book was decent enough to make me curious to see what happens next. It’s not the most brilliant or the most groundbreaking fantasy out there, but it is interesting.
February 13, 2020
Otrăvurile din Caux-Nestemata scobita-Susannah Appelbaum
Sunt cărți pe care imi doresc sa le recitesc si cărți care sunt de ajuns doar o citire,aceasta face parte din a doua categorie,o carte de 3.5*
Acum multi ani in ținutul Caux, regele Verdegris, supărat că i-a murit fata otrăvită in ținutul Pimcaux , sigileaza usa si ii cedează puterea lui Vinegret (sfatuirorul regal) astfel ajungand la conducere regele Matraguna, alături de otravitoarea sa soție Artilla.
Farmacopatul Cecil,unchiul lui Ivy cea Otravitoare de 11 ani,pleaca sa i duca un leacul facut de Ivy- regelui Matraguna ,lăsând birtul "Nestemata scobita " În grija unui degustătorului Sorrel.
Întârzierea unchiului timp de 1 an,venirea gărzilor Matraguna, o determina pe Ivy, alături de Rowan (un degustator) sa plece in ținutul Templer pentru a da de unchiul ei.
Ea este fiică de "vlastar nobil" cea care o sa îndeplinească profeția,acea de a-l readuce pe regele Verdegris din nou la conducerea ținutului Caux,dar pentru aceasta trebuie sa reușească să găsească o nouă usa către tărâmul Pimcaux
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,409 reviews15 followers
April 22, 2018
This is the first book in the series. The kingdom of Caux has been transformed under King Nightshade; once healers were revered, now poisoners rule supreme. Ivy has been in the care of her uncle, a man noted for his potions. While she wants to learn more about poisons, he has been trying to convince her away from that way of life. When he leaves on a secret journey, she is left in the disreputable care of a man who is more interested in taking over the pub than anything else. Ivy finds that she must escape and takes along with her a young Taster, one who has failed miserably at his first assignment. She journeys to find her uncle and solve the mystery of the red bettle he has entrusted to her. It seems that Ivy is tied to an extraordinary prophecy, one that may change her life forever.
Profile Image for TurtleMuffinGR.
22 reviews9 followers
July 2, 2018
The Hollow Bettle follows the adventures of Ivy Manx, a young girl who leaves her home to find her uncle after he mysteriously disappears. Ivy lives in the land of Caux, where poisoning runs rampant after the evil King Nightshade outlaws all apotheopaths. Ivy escapes her house, (where she is accompanied by an evil taster,) and flees with a failed taster named Rowan. This story's world is mildly interesting, but we never really see any interesting parts. Poison is rarely even used in the story. It is shown early on that Ivy loves making poisons, but she never leans toward her more deadly tendencies. Rowan is one of the worst book characters ever. He never helps out, is an annoying brat, and literally does next to nothing to move the story either. On top of that, they are guided through most of the story by another annoying character. None of the other characters are that interesting either. The plot is full of generic, dull cliches and tired plot elements. I never really felt anything when a plot twist came around. Not interested in reading the sequels.
Profile Image for ren.
88 reviews15 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
January 16, 2021
moving this to my on hold, as it got auto returned today and I'm just not feeling it. i'll likely move this to dnf eventually. I've been trying to slog through it but it's just not really piquing(?) my interest. i was really drawn in by the cover so i was hoping this would turn out to be a nice little gem i just magically found from my trawling of libby. but sometimes things just don't work out yanno
Profile Image for Sugarrr.
392 reviews4 followers
May 7, 2018
This was a great idea for a story, but I just didn't like the writing style. For some reason it just didn't flow and I had to reread many times what I've just read, like the last sentence .. I also didn't feel like I cared about the characters in this book, believe me I wanted to!!!! I will read the next book cause I've already bought it...
This book was just ok for me.
Profile Image for ✨Brontë✨.
3 reviews
April 11, 2019
I read this book last year but I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read The Tasters Guild. My friend and I had to check it out from the same library and she got very violent (I'm okay) when I renewed it instead of returning it. 😋
Profile Image for Marlowe.
879 reviews17 followers
July 17, 2015
Apotheopathy - or healing - has been illegal in Caux since the deadly King Nightshade took the throne. Ivy Manx's uncle is one of the few apotheopaths still practising in secret. But when he goes missing, Ivy sets out on a adventure to find her lost uncle and to fulfil a mysterious and hidden prophecy about a Noble Child.

I picked The Hollow Bettle up on a whim. I'm trying to build a collection of good children's books to build my son's interest in reading, and this one has very appealing illustrations and seemed to have an interesting concept. Blind buying is always something of a gamble, and I'm generally so lucky that it stands to reason that I was about due for a dud.

Appelbaum's writing style aims for whimsy, but often opts for lyricism over sense. Her writing is littered with throwaway lines that sound lovely (if a little purple), but don't fit in with the text around them. For example, when Rowan tells Ivy to kick at the Outrider, we are told that "it was fortunate for Ivy that Rowan's advice was excellent." But what was excellent about it? Ivy kicks and it fails to free her from the Outrider.

I also noticed several occasions where Appelbaum chose the wrong words - often words that sound very similar to the right ones, or perhaps indicate a case of thesaurusitis (choosing a synonym without fully understanding the particular connotations of the new word). To be fair, the problem does lessen as the book goes on, perhaps as the author starts to find her groove, but it's enough of a problem that I would have considerable reservations giving The Hollow Bettle to children lest they build their vocabulary incorrectly.

The story itself suffered from similar problems. There's no question that the world Appelbaum constructs is interesting, but it seems that she was more interested in showcasing that world than in actually telling her story. As a result, each adventure adds little to the story or to the reader's understanding of the characters. Rather, the episodes feel disjointed, and Ivy moves from one to the next in fits and starts.

The illustrations are beautiful, and filled with details and life that are so lacking in the narrative.
Profile Image for rachel.
751 reviews146 followers
February 12, 2010
I don't read a lot of middle grade fantasy (and have a lackluster response to even that boy wizard) but the poisoning angle of this one looked cool and the opening paragraph is a hook. Overall, The Hollow Bettle turned out to be a decent beginning to a new series with enough delightful moments of magic to impress.

I had some trouble getting into it at first, because it takes Appelbaum a good 50 pages to tame her precocious, high vocabulary style into a flow. For that reason, I'm not really sure what age level this is aimed at. At work, we have it shelved in the teen section, but the tame subject matter and especially the age of the main character (11) seems much more likely to appeal to younger kids. Yet I also can't imagine quite a few younger kids reading the first few chapters with ease and interest, since even I as an adult (who, it must be said, overuses multisyllabic adverbs and adjectives in her own writing) stumbled to get into a reading groove.

That being said, there is a lot to recommend to this book that readers of any age would enjoy. Appelbaum's story, while definitely not original -- Prophecy of the Noble Child, anyone? -- moves along at a quick pace with enough tense moments to keep the reader interested. All of the villains are colorful characters, especially the Queen. Appelbaum's best writing comes when she's describing plant life and behavior; what happens at the end with wall tapestries is marvelous. You know how sometimes one scene or detail delights you so much that it makes you feel OK about spending nearly $20 on a single book? Yeah, that moment did it for me.

I think I will probably read the next book in the series when it comes out. Now that the world of Caux is established, it will be interesting to see how its inhabitants are developed.
Profile Image for Conan Tigard.
1,134 reviews4 followers
November 13, 2015
I love a good adventure and The Hollow Bettle delivers just that ... a romping good adventure. Susannah Appelbaum has created an interesting world where everyone in Caux must have a personal taster because poisonings seem to be second nature. Of course, it hasn't always been this way, which is what the book is really about.

The main characters of Ivy and Rowan are wonderful and young readers will instantly like them. The story is highly interesting and the bad guys are just that . . . bad. Well, the king is kind of goofy with his intense fear of antiques, but he is still bad. He cannot stand to be around anything old. How weird is that? And the queen . . . well, she seems to like poisoning anyone that happens to be around her whether they deserve it or not.

The main "bad" guy is Vidal Verjouce. He is so bad that he gouged out his eyeballs (thankfully that wasn't in this book as it happened sometime ago in his past). Yuck! That must have hurt. The few illustrations that appear in The Hollow Bettle are uniquely drawn. They remind me of Tim Burton-like images from some of his movies, like A Nightmare Before Christmas or James and the Giant Peach.

This being the first book that the Susannah Appelbaum has published, she does a great job of telling an interesting story that kids will love. I found myself quite pleased with it.

Overall, The Hollow Bettle is a wonderful first book in a series that promises a lot of twists and turns that will keep young readers flipping pages late into the night. I look forward to her next effort.

I rated this book an 8½ out of 10.
Profile Image for Al.
191 reviews30 followers
August 28, 2009
The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Beetle by Susannah Applebaum

The Hollow Beetle is the first book in the new trilogy The Poisons of Caux by Susannah Applebaum. The story follows the adventures of healer in training Ivy Manx as she journeys through the kingdom of Caux, a land which has forgotten the arts of kindness and trust turning instead to the craftiness of poisons, and eleven-year-old Ivy just may be the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. The catch is that, as of yet, young Ivy is oblivious to the whole affair, content to skirt her studies and experiment with poisons. So with the help of an errant taster Ivy begins a slow journey to unlock history’s secrets. She soon ends up learning more than she ever bargained for, and her need to discover the truth just might end in the failure of her destiny.

The Hollow Beetle is a fun book for middle readers filled with dry humor. However, I felt it was over laden with ostentatious vocabulary. Susannah Applebaum has a simple writing style that was not to my personal taste, yet she manages to provide an interesting and engaging tale. Her characters are a bit flat, but the book ends with the expectation of further development in future sequels. It is a good book for young readers; just do not expect anything more than a superficial adventure story.
764 reviews33 followers
November 16, 2015

Literature for young readers. Sets up a fantasy kingdom where apotheopaths (herbalists of goodwill) have been supplanted by herbalists of ill will, who attempt to poison enemies/competitors, etc. Under the evil kingship of the Nightshade family, apotheopaths have been outlawed.

Protagonist is a young orphan Poison Ivy (who it turns out does have living parents). She teams up w. Rowan a young guild food-taster, to rescue her uncle, a covert apotheopath who was trying to heal the king of his club foot. Cecil, the uncle, has raised Ivy since the apparent death of both her parents.

Book has an interesting line of characters called trestlemen, who live in bridges, in the support beams just below the bridge's top surface. One trestleman, Axle, has great knowledge of plant life and writes the field guides that are used to train tasters. He is a mentor

Bettles are weird "organic" diamond-like objects that come out of the earth moist; then harden; and at book's end, break like shells to release beautiful butterfly-like creatures.

Something I didn't like aobut hte book, tho I can't put my finger on the problems. There's a sort of fairy-tale atmosphere to the book that waxes and wanes.
492 reviews7 followers
October 30, 2009
In the kingdom of Caux, poisoning is the norm, and Ivy Manx is worried. When her beloved uncle Cecil went on a journey a year ago, she took over running his tavern, the Hollow Bettle. But that was a year ago, and Ivy decides it is time to go search for him. Accompanied by her pet crow, the tavern's Taster, and her own inept Taster, Ivy sets out and is almost immediately pursued by King Nightshade's deadly sentries. With magical help from a diminutive trestleman, they evade the sentries and an Outrider, then continue on their dangerous trip.

Girls will love the bold personality of feisty Ivy. Boys will love the incredibly disgusting meal Queen Artilla prepares for Ivy and her traveling companions, beginning with an appetizer of live eels, slick and gooey. "The eels slithered busily around the tabletop, leaving the diners the unpleasant task of spearing them with their forks."

Magic and wicked characters abound, but the bright countenance of Ivy shines through it all. Great fun, and an awesome start for a planned trilogy.
Profile Image for Sarah Tilatitsky.
335 reviews10 followers
October 17, 2010
This book is good. I mean, really good. A girl named after Poison Ivy (Ivy) was the adopted niece of an outlawed apotheopath (he does it in secret, it's just illegal to practice and to preform the profession) who was jailed when he stepped inside the city of where the king and queen lived (he stated his secret profession) and Ivy was living with a mean taster (a person that tastes food so that the people aren't poisoned) that is secretly trying to take her away to his master. The master has a secret...and I will not give away the ending. Sounds exciting? It is, a little. I'm an adventure girl, so although this is a little dull for my taste buds, well, it should be exciting for yours. Have fun!
Profile Image for b.
207 reviews
June 18, 2013
Nakonec moc pěkný pohádkový příběh plný jedů, rostlin a písmenka x. :D Líbí se mi autorky vyprávěcí, popisovací styl, dlouho jsem nic podobného nečetla a tak mi to nevadilo, i když to chvílemi bylo trochu nudnější a rozvleklejší, mohlo by to být trochu... dynamičtější. Překlady jmen mi nevadí, i když jmenovat se Jeřáb teda musí bejt něco. Postavy byly fajn, jen jsme se o nich moc nedozvěděli a proto na mě nijak výrazně nepůsobily - nevadily ani nenadchly. Popravdě jsem se ale místy trochu ztrácela a v podstatě jsem neměla problém knihu kdykoliv odložit. Zato se mi opravdu líbil "otrávený" svět, nápad se školou pro ochutnavače a to, jak vlastně ochutnávají. A betloví divočáci.:D Nakonec slabší čtyři hvězdičky a druhý díl si ráda přečtu. :)
Profile Image for Melanie H..
3,805 reviews39 followers
November 14, 2010
Ivy Manx, aka "Poison Ivy," decides to go after her missing uncle who left their inn to try to cure the king a year ago. Along the way she picks up an unlucky boy who has just managed to kill 20 of the royal guard because he failed to "taste" the poison in their food. But he didn't, really. He joins Ivy on her quest to find the royal city where the evil "Nightshades" are ruling the land with fear. Along the way Ivy learns that she is the child that will fulfill a royal prophecy stating that she will cure the "real" king and bring peace to the land.

Cute, but disjointed and didn't flow well. I don't feel compelled to read the rest of the trilogy.
120 reviews1 follower
September 23, 2013
Pretty clever little book - filled with Harry Potteresque touches including a winged sidekick (a crow, this time, instead of an owl). Introducing Ivy Manx as the female Harry Potter, whose role as the savior of a dark world has been predicted in a prophecy. In this odd world, an evil king has taken over and people are being poisoned at such a rate, they often hire “tasters” to sample their food and proclaim it safe. Ivy’s uncle – who aims to heal people rather than poison them – has disappeared, and Ivy sets out to find him. The characters are fun, the fantasy world has lots of flourishes, and the poison premise is unique.
Profile Image for Elisa Klope.
11 reviews2 followers
September 22, 2015
I found this series when shelving in the children's room at the public library, and checked all three books out partly to create more space on the shelf (there were quite a few Anglebergers that needed to find space) and partly because the title intrigued me. How could a series about poison and intrigue be a children's series? And then I read it and learned. This is a fantastic adventure series, The characters are immensely relatable and the narrative tone is easy to follow. The story is multilayered, and readers will get a lot of practice keeping track of multiple complex characters and storylines. I would recommend it for middle grade readers, and the colored ink will be a huge attractor.
Profile Image for Miss Bookiverse.
1,931 reviews73 followers
Shelved as 'didnt-finish'
May 30, 2012
Nach 100 Seiten heißt es leider SchlussAusEnde. Ich fand das Buch klang wirklich gut, das Cover ist toll und die auch die Illustrationen im Buch sind schön. Leider bin ich nach dem kompletten Part 1 noch immer nicht mit den Figuren, geschweige denn mit den beiden Protagonisten, warm geworden. Sie wirken einfach nur fremd und kalt.
Am meisten nervt mich aber der Schreibstil, er wirkt gewollt hochtrabend. Ich dachte eigentlich hierbei handle es sich um ein Middle Grade Buch, aber dafür fand ich die Sprache viel zu überkompliziert.
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