Poison's Kiss

304p. ebook available. Random. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101937822
Gr 8 Up—Destined to slay the enemies of the Raja, Marinda has never questioned her role as a visha kanya ("poison maiden"). In the kingdom of Sundari, snake venom runs through the veins of the poison maiden, enabling her to fell a man with one fatal kiss. Wrenched from her family as a baby and transformed into a deadly assassin, the teen is convinced that her kill orders are protective measures taken to ensure the safety of a king she's never met. Gopal, her sadistic handler, manipulates Marinda into cooperating by threatening harm to her younger brother, Mani. Most of the boys she's killed are strangers, but when Marinda is asked to dispatch her friend Deven, she grows a conscience. In her bid to save Deven's life without having to compromise her brother's, Marinda desperately races against time to figure out whom she's been blindly serving all these years. With a rich tapestry of characters ranging from Kadru, a poison mistress, to Raja himself, Shields's first installment in a fantasy duology is intriguing if a little slow-paced. The author's easy co-optation of Indian and other cultural mythology, though, raises questions for discussion. The text is liberally peppered with Sanskrit, but there is no glossary for context, only an afterword, in which the author writes that "Sundari is not India, it is influenced by that culture and its mythology." Shields reimagines Garuda, "a birdlike creature," as female and also mixes in Egyptian mythology ("If the heart is as light as a feather, the person can enter the afterlife. If not, the heart is fed to a beast.").
VERDICT The novel is moderately entertaining, but those seeking tighter pacing and more authentic storytelling based on Indian mythology should try Roshani Chokshi'sThe Star-Touched Queen.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing