cover image A Fierce and Subtle Poison

A Fierce and Subtle Poison

Samantha Mabry. Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61620-521-8

Inspired by Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” debut author Mabry blends magical realism with mystery in the story of Lucas Knight, the 17-year-old son of a hotel developer spending his summers in San Juan. Instead of thinking about college, Lucas spends his time with friends Ruben, Rico, and Carlos, enjoying the nightlife despite tales of curses and ghosts, and the disappearances of several young girls in town. When a scribbled wish that Ruben’s cousin Marisol leaves at a cursed house is returned to Lucas, he investigates, meeting and falling for an occupant of the house, Isabel Ford, whose touch is poisonous. Lucas becomes a suspect after Marisol’s body washes up on the shore and her younger sister goes missing. With the police on Lucas’s heels and Isabel’s poison slowly killing her, the two race to put a stop to the disappearances and end the curse. Mabry smoothly joins dreamy, fever-induced scenes with the lore of “la ciguapa,” a beautiful creature that leads men to insanity or death with a kiss, and her atmospheric ending guarantees goose bumps. Ages 12–up. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffman & Associates. (Apr.)