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Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Poison Garden (by Sarah Singleton)

by Sarah Singleton
Release date : May 2009
It is the 1850's, and a young boy, Thomas, leaves his family to be apprenticed to a pharmacist, at the behest of his dead grandmother. He also inherits a magical box from her, which provides him entry into a mysterious garden. But while visiting it, he sees a ghostly vision of his grandmother, who tells him she was poisoned, and warns him that he must find the person responsible, and save her precious garden. For she was one of five members of an arcane guild, each of whom cultivated an individual garden, mastering the art of poison, perfume and medicine. The guild members jostle for power as, one by one, they are murdered... can Thomas solve the mystery, before he in turn is threatened ? (taken from Simon and Schuster)
MY THOUGHTS : Basically, as we say in French : j'ai aimé le fond, mais pas la forme ! Meaning that I really liked the story, the ideas and the atmosphere, but I had trouble with the writing. I found the book quite dense (which is not necessarily pejorative), and complex, and I thought that the story could've been told
 more simply and directly. There were parts in the book where my mind disconnected from the story, and some descriptions bored me. I found that frustrating because the story really is fascinating, but all these detours kept taking my concentration away. I found the installation slow, and thought the characters lacked development.
That said, I found all the action scenes and suspense well mastered, and they woke me up everytime. I was fascinated by the story behing the gardens. I loved the idea of these magical gardens, and I craved for more descriptions of the places. It really made me want to visit the gardens and spend hours in them ! The ending was unexpected and lively, which is always a bonus point.

All in all, I think The Poison Garden is unique when it comes to the story, there's a very special atmosphere, but I would've been thankful if there had been less interferences, that I think weren't needed. Somehow, although I loved many things, it didn't work for me. I hesitated between a 3 or a 2 for the rating, but I'm going with a 2 since the form wasn't interesting enough for my taste, and well, form is important !


  1. Love the sketch-props to the Illustrator

    Great honest review. I like the cover, but it sounds like the story lacks strength. Thanks for the review.

  2. Thanks for an honest review. I've read one other book by this author, and I didn't love it. Will still try this one though. :)

  3. Aw, this kind of makes me sad. I saw the cover and the synopsis and I was all set to read a good review and want to get this book. :(
    But thanks for the honesty, because now I don't have to.

  4. I'm always so disappointed when authors don't manage to do justice to what could have been a great story. And it sounds like maybe that's what happened here. The writing just wasn't up to the story.
    I'm super intrigued by the magical gardens, though - so much so that I might just give this book a chance despite it receiving only 2 suns.

    oh, and like Elie said, major props to mister illustrator.


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