I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Poison Tree (Den of Shadows #8) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2012), eARC, 240pg
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
The rich stew of the author's creations—SingleEarth, vampires, shapeshifters, Tristes, the Bruja Guilds—are at full boil here in the story of two 20-ish young women trying to out run their very different pasts, and figure out where they fit in and who they might become. Each has landed in a more "normal" place, and each wonders if, like a tattoo that can't be covered up, they can ever really fit into "normal."
Poison Tree, when I first started reading it, seriously confused me. It’s a YA book, but it stars adult protagonists. It reads EXACTLY like an adult urban fantasy book, except for the lack of sex and over-the-top violence. The language is exactly the same as in adult urban fantasies, the story is the same, there’s the same types of characters (including a (literal) Kick-Ass Heroine) and even the setting isn’t all that different. All the characters are, furthermore, well into their adulthood. So the fact that it’s being marketed as a YA book is, to be honest, a little weird.
I’ve had issues with YA books starring adult protagonists before, usually because I’m one of those stubborn people who think young adult books should star young adults. However, maybe this is one of those “intro to a genre” books that are occasionally marketed to kids? Like, if you don’t want to hand your teenager an adult urban fantasy book just yet, but they’re bored with actual YA urban fantasies, this would be the one to give to them while you wait for their maturity to emerge a little more. Or something?
Because Poison Tree is a very good book, and the fact that it DOESN’T exactly follow the common adult urban fantasy guidelines is actually a point in its favor. There needs to be fresh blood in genre books, and an urban fantasy/paranormal that doesn’t have a hot lady in skintight leather pants running around having sex with werewolves or whatever would be AWESOME. Am I right? Or am I alone in thinking this? Surely there are other people who’re tired of blood and sex and violence in urban fantasies?1
There’s a lot more Poison Tree can offer, too! There are multiple female characters who actually have personalities. One of its themes is of breaking free from fear, from your past, and from those things that cause you harm. There’s an underlying mystery, too, and lots of neat paranormal things that’re somewhat different from your usual werewolves and vampires. And it’s face-paced and exciting and even a bit heart-warming at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and while I can understand making it a YA book, I still think it’d do well in the adult market, too.
Read: July 8, 2012
So it turns out this is book no. 8 in a series called Den of Shadows, which would explain a few things. I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to have read no. 1-7 before reading this one, though, as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere that it was part of the series and I didn’t have any trouble with it, besides.
That kind of answers the question why it’s being marketed as a YA, though– because all the other books in the series are YA, too. So.
Here’s an interesting interview with the author about her writing style and whatnot.
- Although going by how well the blood and sex and violence urban fantasies sell, maybe I’m horribly, horribly wrong. ↩