The Poisons We Drink

Sourcebooks/Fire. Apr. 2024. 480p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728251950.
Gr 9 Up–In this novel set in an alternate universe version of Washington, D.C., Venus is a Love Witcher—a brewer who has sworn off using magic for everyday things to focus her power on potions. A few years earlier, Venus and her friend Presley experienced a traumatic event which made their magic deviant. The deviation is an insidious voice constantly urging Venus to release her magic for vengeance—especially dangerous in a time when discrimination against Witchers is legal and they are regularly found murdered. Venus and Janus, her half-sister, hang out with cousin Tyrell, sneaking into illegal parties. Their mother, Clorissa, keeps a tight rein on her daughters, including managing Venus’s brewing jobs. When Clorissa is murdered, Venus finds herself swept into the Witcher underworld and beholden to the Grand Witcher’s family. After being gone a few years, Presley returns to town and to Venus, and their burgeoning romance is complicated by their shared secret. Between juggling the twists and turns of Witcher and human politics, and her relationship with Presley, Venus uncovers some ugly truths and her mother’s secret, altering the future for everyone she cares about. Will her plan work or will she find herself dead like her mother? Tightly written, the tension and angst of Venus’s life pours out of the pages like one of her potions. The constant plot twists and turns reveal more surprising truths and keep readers hooked. Includes an author’s note, glossary of magical terms, and several brewing spells mentioned in the story.
VERDICT Baptiste’s debut is a strong first buy.

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