Book Review: This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Publication Date: 29 June 2021

Genre: YA – Fantasy

Pages: 384

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron’s new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.

I have been anxiously awaiting This Poison Heart after finishing Cinderella is Dead, and I am here to say the Kalynn Bayron has definitely leveled up here storytelling because this book blew me away.

Briseis is gifted with the ability to grow plants from seeds as well as revive dead plants. Briseis has never really considered a life outside of Brooklyn and the flower shop that she helps her mothers run until she is gifted a huge estate following the death of her birth mother’s sister. This sounds like the perfect opportunity for Briseis to finally test the limits of her powers without the potential to hurt anyone plus this gives her family a place to live rent-free following the rent hikes in the city.

Let me start with the fact that Briseis is an incredible character. Briseis is Black and bisexual. She grapples with what it means to have abilities that were passed down from a family that she’s never known as well as the love and life that her amazing mothers have given her. Briseis is passionate about botany thanks to her ability. She can literally touch poisonous plants with virtually no side effects…JEALOUS.

Now let’s get into side characters. Briseis’ mothers are the type of parents that young people NEED to see on page. They are so supportive of Briseis even if it means them setting aside their personal feelings in order for Briseis to learn more about her history and abilities. However, I will pass on Mo’s waffles. Y’all will know what I’m talking about when you read this.

This book is so much more than just a fantasy. There’s a mystery aspect to the plot that I found myself fully immersed in. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Greek mythology retelling. I refuse to tell y’all which Greek god/goddess that this story refers to because I think that this is something that you should experience for yourself.

Oh, and you know what, Bayron really decided to stand on our necks with the cliffhanger in this book. I am so angry that I need to wait for book two, but here I am as a Bayron simp waiting on book two.

Overall, if you’re looking for a story that features some incredible Black girl magic, a queer normative world, and a mystery that will keep you on your toes then definitely pick this one up!

Thank you Bloomsbury YA for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Get your copy of This Poison Heart here!

Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of the award winning YA fantasy CINDERELLA IS DEAD. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.


Social Media:

Twitter: @KalynnBayron

Instagram: @KalynnBayron

Signed and personalized copies of her work: BookPeople

  • THIS POISON HEART(YA Contemporary Fantasy) – OUT JUNE 29, 2021
  • THE VANQUISHERS(MG Paranormal)—OUT 2022
  • THIS POISON HEART 2 (YA Contemporary Fantasy) – OUT 2022
  • OUT THERE (Anthology) – OUT 2022

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