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Blood to Poison by Mary Watson


Blood to Poison by Mary Watson
UK Publication: April 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

One word review – Fabulous. Two word review- – Absolutely Fabulous

Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It’s a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella’s girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella’s girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die.

The anger is bursting from Savannah – at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother’s disingenuous fiancé, even at her own loving family. Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because the key to survival lies in the underbelly of Cape Town, where the sinister veilwitches are waiting for just such a girl.

Blood to Poison is a furious and mesmerising story about discovering magic, historical rage and love in all its guises.

My Thoughts:  This is billed as YA but it is the kind of YA that an adult reader can really get their teeth into, think Hunger Games or His Dark Materials the same vibe but completely different characters and stories.

From the very start I was pulled into the magical world of Savannah and the curse. I loved the blending of historical anger, racism, sexism and folklore into a cohesive narrative about a blood curse created by an enslaved young black woman. Savannah is a fantastic character and I loved spending time with her as she seeks to tackle her anger, to break the curse and to defeat the evil surrounding her.

I also love the way the book uses words from the many languages of South Africa a glossary of which is found at the front of the book.

Some of my favourite quotes:

“Of course I ‘m angry. I’ve lived this moment, in other settings with different people, before. Of course Freda was angry; she was born into a world where the small details of living were determined by the colour of her skin. And of course Ma Stella was angry, when her entire life had been walled in, with so many options denied to her.”

“But you know this place, it’s a kaleidoscope. Magic from different parts of Africa, Asian and Europe have threaded together over hundreds of years,”

“You seemed like a book I wanted to read.”

“They won’t ask too many questions’ Another day, another woman killed.”

“A sunbird calls and I think to myself: how pretty it is, this place where terrible things happened. How in this country, beauty is often the mise-enscene for trauma.”

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a rip roaring story with a different background and anyone who wants to understand more about historical anger particularly female anger.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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