The Poison Diaries
by Maryrose Wood and the Duchess of Northumberland
The first half of The Poison Diaries focuses on Jessamine and her role as the daughter of an apothecary. She cleans the house and cooks the food, but her father prevents her from learning about all the plants he grows, especially his mysterious 'poison garden' full of rare and deadly plants. Her life is dull and routine, poor Jessamine, but things get interesting when a plant savant is dumped on her father's doorstep. The young man, called Weed, has a special relationship with plants. In fact, he prefers them to people and considers them more alive than animals. But the more time she spends with him, the more fascinated Jessamine becomes, until she finds herself falling in love...
I enjoyed the story quite a bit. The tidbits we learn about plants through Jessamine, her father and Weed are very interesting, and must have taken quite a bit of research on the part of the author. It's haunting and atmospheric, with strong characters that remain memorable long after the pages are shut. The romantic buildup is slow, which I appreciated; it's nice to see two teens not rushing into things five minutes after meeting.
Towards the end of the book, the story suddenly takes a strange turn into a truly fantastical spin, when poison plants suddenly gain the ability to appear as humans and negotiate with the young protagonists. It was weird. At first I thought it was a hallucination on the part of a poison victim, but it soon became clear that it affected all the main characters. The pace continues to speed toward a thrilling climax, but the build-up is so sudden and the book ends so abruptly that it's clear the book was written to be the start of a series, probably a trilogy. It really weakened the overall narrative, since I don't think the book can stand-alone as a completely fulfilled novel. That's a real pity, because there is so much promise here.
Fans of The Twilight Saga and other paranormal romances will eat this book right up.
If you read The Poison Diaries and want more, there seems to be a related book published a few years back, also called The Poison Diaries. I haven't read it, but it seems to be a facsimile of a journal kept by Weed.
3.5 out of 5 stars