Title: A Poison Dark and Drowning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House
“The magicians want her to lead.
The sorcerers want her to lie.
The demons want her blood.”
Cue intense trailer music! In all seriousness, this book is a formidable sequel to it’s predecessor and definitely continues to impress and shock readers. We see young Neville, I mean Henrietta, (read my review of book one to get that joke) in the aftermath of her defeat of Korozoth, living as a sorcerer (technically sorceress, I suppose, but I don’t think they ever refer to her that way in the book) and adjusting to life after training. The war on the demons continues, Rook gets worse by the day and Henrietta still carries that damn world on her shoulder.
I found this book to be very interesting with a lot more depth than the first. I enjoyed getting to know family secrets, more about the prophecy and the origins of how this war against demons began. I honestly wanted to give this a 5 star rating but I just cannot do that in good conscious because of the romantic subplots!
Okay look — I know that 16 year olds are hormonal little monsters but why did we have to introduce ANOTHER romantic sub-plot into an already overplayed love triangle scenario? We’ve got boring mcshadows, sassy mccharming and now we throw in brooding mcmiserable into the mix? Ugh. Like, can Henrietta just live for a second? Girl is trying to save all of London from horrific demons who plan to destroy everything all while dealing with a horrible family history realization and now she’s got a man telling her “oh hey… you’re gonna be with me” as though she would ever agree to that crap. Witch, please. (Also — if I thought this reminded me of the Mortal Instruments before, it’s basically Clary/Simon/Jace/Sebastian with different names and less incest…maybe…I’m still not convinced that Henrietta isn’t tied to the Blackwood family in some way — also Blackwood is literally the name of a family in TMI…. okay I’m done.)
Though I understand her connection to Rook, it seemed like their relationship really progresses out of nowhere, as well. They went from awkward, friend-zone flirting to unyielding love and adoration in a hot minute. Meanwhile, Henrietta is getting her flirt on with literally everyone while Rook is ya know, becoming a horrific demon monster. It was hard not to be frustrated with her blatant neglect when it came to Rook’s condition and when everything goes down at Eliza’s party, I seriously was ready to stab her myself after what poor Magnus endures because of her stupidity.
Overlooking the irritations I have with the above paragraph, this book was filled with a lot of awesome mystery and backstory that gave more meaning to the impending doom surrounding London. As I said before, the tropes in this book are not something readers haven’t seen before, but I think this author does a good job of taking ideas readers have seen (and loved) from other book and making them their own within the world and narrative of this story.
The introduction of Maria is perhaps the best part of the whole book and is definitely the most intriguing mystery left unanswered at the end. Maria reminds me of Amren from ACOMAF in that she’s mysterious with secrets of her own, but is resourceful and able to fend for herself. She’s a loyal ally and someone who chooses words carefully. She’s not experiencing the dramatics of being a 16 year old caught in a love nest, but she has just as much riding on this whole war as everyone else, yet remains a calm and strong force throughout.
As we learn more about the prophecy, I think this story is going to end differently than readers will assume. Comparing again, you get Voldemort vibes with the whole “the girl and women two in one, one must die to unite the three” situation but I don’t think that’s going to play out as black and white as it seems. Admittedly, the prophecy has been pretty literal up to this point so what do I know.
Again, this book is great and it’s done well. It’s hard for me not to compare it to Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments because honestly it’s so similar in so many ways, but it definitely is enthralling and worth your time to read. I loved those other stories so I can’t knock it for having elements that remind me of those books. I’m hoping I’ll see a lot more originality in the next books and get surprised a lot more than I did in this one, but no matter what, this author knows how to write a fantasy that will appeal to her readers and give them what they crave.