Monday, 29 February 2016

Book of February: Poison

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Book of the Month: February
Last Monday of Every Month

An oldie but a goodie!

​I first read Poison in high school, and I fell in love with it straightaway, but as I became older it got lost on my shelves and spent about ten years gathering dust. Then, this month, I picked it up again and decided to see if I still enjoyed it that much.

Short answer: yes, I did.

Poison tells the story of a young girl (named Poison), who leaves her home in the marshes to find her baby sister who has been taken by the Phaeries. It has elements of Labyrinth in that respect; that it focuses on a girl trying to save her younger sibling from a fantastical race, but there's no Magic Dancing David Bowie here. Instead, we get creepy scarecrows, bone witches, spider women, and a guy called Lamprey who literally has a circular suction mouth.

In short, it's deliciously dark.

Poison herself is my kind of heroine. She's snarky, stubborn, and determined. At first, I got a Wednesday Addams-esque vibe from her, with her long black hair and sullen attitude. But as the story progresses, she also develops to show a high level of ingenuity and perseverance that I remember really admiring as a teenager.

The story is layered nicely, with rich and textured characters that really help to bring this grim but beautiful world to life. It has the threads of a good adventure story, but with a gothic hint that walks a perfect line between bringing out the darkness and not frightening younger readers away. When I first read this book, I loved those kind of stories anyway; I devoured Darkside and The Saga of Darren Shan like there was no tomorrow. But this one unites that darkness with another true love of mine: fairies. And not the Tinkerbell kind. No, these ones are conniving and manipulative, with a real wicked edge. They are the fairies that you're supposed to be afraid of; to always be second-guessing.

But, all in all, the main thing I loved was the importance of stories - the fact that the entire world rests upon the idea of a pen always touching paper. That's not exactly a new concept (those storytelling monks from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus just jumped to mind!), but here it places the emphasis on a slightly different direction, which is very fresh and innovative, and completely in keeping with the dark undertones. And the way it impacts on the ending... well, let's just say all similarities to Labyrinth stop there.

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