There are a lot of YA fantasy series that I have been meaning to read but haven’t quite got started yet. Some of them, I’ve either bought the first book in paperback or on Kindle, but they remain untouched. However, I’ve always been a sucker for a cover with a scorpion on it (I blame it on being a Scorpio), so when I saw The Kinder Poison in the teen new release section at the library, I decided it was worth a try.
In The Kinder Poison, Zahru is a simple peasant girl. Yes, she’s magical, but most members of their society are magical. Zuhru’s magic is a simple, humble magic. She can talk to animals. Because of her magic, she’ll be forever assigned to the stables and other servile places in society, but her stepsister Hen has a more exciting magical ability. When Hen gets invited to a royal party, she and Zahru decide that Zahru should gain passage into the party too under a false name and false magical ability. After all, it will be fun for the two sisters and best friends to hang out and gaze upon the royal opulence.
However, because of her fake ability, she is singled out for special attention from the royal heirs as they make teams to compete for their father’s favor and for the crown. As she becomes embroiled in a rivalry between brothers, the situation turns potentially deadly for her and she becomes part of the royal competition.
I Noticed . . .
First, this fantasy world appears to be based on the world of ancient Egypt. There are animal-human formed gods, priests, lotus blossoms, and rivers and deserts. The king (or mestrah) is worshipped as a god, and some of the superstition seems to be based on Egyptian superstition. I used to love ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology as a young teen, so that aspect really appealed to me.
There are also a lot of loose ends. This one pretty obviously leads into a coming sequel, and while I look forward to the sequel, I tend to dock books 1/2 star on my Goodreads profile if the storyline is too obviously cliffhangerish. This one definitely is. I hate that in a book.
The heroine is obsessed with the normalcy of her gifts and how her gifts aren’t good enough compared to everyone else’s. That drives me crazy the entire book. I am thinking about recommending this one to my 13-year-old daughter, but I’m afraid she won’t get the message that you’re not supposed to belittle your own gifts from the story.
Also, I can’t think of the last book that I read that actually mentioned human sacrifice. The human sacrifice was to appease the gods and to grant the one making the sacrifice magical powers. That felt like a completely foreign concept.
I wondered . . .
So many of the things that I wondered are tied up into a spoilers that I feel like I can’t really mention them here. There are still a couple of things that I wondered though.
First, there seems to be someone who is using the venom from different scorpions to create different magical effects. I was dying to know how he extracted the scorpion venom without harm to himself. The book gives a half-hearteded answer near the end, but I felt like it was feeble.
I also really wondered what Hen thought when all this drama was happening to Zahru. They’re supposedly the best of friends, like sisters, but we don’t get to see Hen’s worries or any attempts for her to save Zahru, and that doesn’t seem right. I hope we get to see some of that in the sequel.
Also, the ending (before the epilogue). It certainly seems convenient. Yet, I felt like it raised a whole load of questions that could mean the start of a series of more than one or two more books, depending on how the questions are answered.
It reminded me of . . .
As I mentioned earlier, the world building reminded me of the world of ancient Egypt. There are a lot of commonalities for the reader, and I think the cover design of the book reinforces that comparison. For reasons that are beyond my logical brain, I found myself thinking of the movie Stargate and the priests and even the banishing of the people to be workers for the “god” and king.
One excellent quote . . .
I thought I was not going to have a quote to pull from the book for the majority of the book. Despite being well written, the words were just not beautiful to me. However, towards the end, there was a quote about duty that I really liked.
One of the royal heirs is fighting his destiny to become the crown prince, despite his father’s favor for this position. As he comes to a realization that he’s choosing the wrong path, the narrator muses,
Sometimes what we want isn’t as important as what we need to do.
That’s a truth that I wish I lived by just a little more often. It would make my life, or at least my budgeting, go a little smoother.