Where has this book been all my life? I haven’t fallen so head over heels for a book in a long time!
Title: The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison, #1)
Author: Natalie Mae
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Genres: YA Fantasy
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.
Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.
All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.
With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.
I think I always start with the characters in my reviews, but I don’t care, because the characters are why I fell in love with this book! I’ll start with Zahru, the star of the show. Her voice is so refreshing in that she has a sense of humor and it shows through her thoughts, expressions, and dialogue. She’s so funny, with amazing comebacks and hilarious thought processes. A lot of YA fantasy these days are serious and dark, leaving no room for humor outside of sarcasm. But Zahru’s jokes and lightheartedness had me grinning throughout the book. That’s not to say that Zahru herself is a joke. No, she’s a fully-developed, rounded-out character. She has her flaws, worries, and insecurities, and these really show through her voice as well. I felt such a strong connection to this character because of her weaknesses, but her strengths are so admirable as well. The themes of the story play strongly with Zahru’s strength of character, and I really loved that.
And I haven’t even mentioned the royals who must chase Zahru and sacrifice her! I was not expecting to fall in love with each and every royal in their own way. Sakira is a fun-loving, people-pleaser with her own motivations for getting the crown. Jet is such a sweet guy who craves adventure and rejects his throne. And Kasta’s dark side sometimes backs away from the light inside of him. Each character also has their own flaws and strengths, worries and motivations. Zahru’s fascination with each one matched mine. None of them is a stereotype or caricature, which I appreciated.
I think what helped me to connect with each character was the level of emotion I felt, through Zahru. There are so many complicated, conflicting emotions toward each character, and wow I loved that so much. Nothing about these characters is straightforward. Nothing is clear. And I was living for it.
I haven’t even talked about the fantasy aspects of this novel yet! The magic system is really interesting, but I think what really makes worth reading is how the politics surround the magic system. Different magics fall into different classes, and Zahru falls into a lower class because she speaks to animals (which is seen as not as important as an elemental wielder, for example). Zahru’s place in the world doesn’t only motivate her, but it affects the types of decisions she makes. I loved that her magic, though seen as less important, is still useful to her throughout the book. The descriptions of different magics is also fantastic (especially Jet’s magic! I loved his abilities!)
Gosh, I tried so hard to read this book fast, but I just didn’t have the time! If I’d had the time, however, I think I would have read this book so fast. It’s so exciting, and each encounter becomes more and more thrilling. I never felt like a scene was wasted, and I looked forward to what Zahru would come up with next. The prose propels the story at a fast pace, though it does leave time for beautiful, intimate moments between characters. By the time I reached the end of the book, I was desperate for the next one.
- The romance is AMAZING. I will not give spoilers because you need to experience the amazingness yourself. Gosh. I love it. It’s been a long time since I’ve shipped a couple so hard.
- The ending seriously left me wanting the next book! I wish I knew if this was a trilogy or a duology so I can be prepared for that at least!
This is definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read this year! The mix of fantastic characters, intriguing magic, and exciting plot had me wanting more. I cannot wait to pick up the next book!
About the Author
Natalie Mae is an ex-programmer, dessert enthusiast, and author of young adult novels. She has also been a freelance editor and Pitch Wars mentor, and feels it notable to mention she once held a job where she had to feed spiders.
She now writes full-time at home with a bag of dark chocolates in one hand and a leopard cat on her lap. She is most definitely not checking Instagram right now.