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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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  • Kindness is a major theme

    The Kinder Poison is set in the magical country of Orkena, where your magical abilities define your future. Zahru is a Whisperer, possessing the ability to speak to animals. She and her father manage the stable in their small town. When an exciting challenge known as “The Crossing” is invoked by the ruler of Orkena, Zahru and her best friend Hen devise a plan to sneak into the capital to watch the festivities. But their plan goes horribly wrong, and Zahru suddenly goes from being a casual spectator to a crucial part of the event known as the Sacrifice. Zahru is sent out into the desert with the feuding heirs who must race each other to an endpoint on the other side of the desert where the winner will sacrifice Zahru to the gods and claim their rightful place as ruler. Zahru knows her only hope at survival is to convince one of the feuding heirs to spare her, but as they race through the desert she’s unsure who to trust. The Kinder Poison is told entirely in the first person from Zahru’s perspective, as she grapples with what to do next to ensure her survival. I didn’t know who to trust from one minute to another. Zahru is a pawn in a game between three heirs, and each of them has their own motivations. Youngest Sakira is a party girl who wants to have fun but also win the race. She and her fans will stop at nothing to ensure she wins. Middle child Jet doesn’t want the throne for himself, despite being the most prepared. Eldest Kasta is a cruel boy who views the throne as his right and will stop at nothing to get it. Kindness and its impact is a major theme in The Kinder Poison. Although Zahru does not possess “useful” magical powers, the kindness she shows to the heirs and their travel companions, despite the fact that she is their prisoner, is what keeps her safe. I loved this highly imaginative, fast-paced story. I’ll be not-so-patiently waiting until the sequel is released! I highly recommend this to fans of YA Fantasy and Adventure stories. Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for my review copy! All opinions are my own!

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  • Exciting and Fun!

    It was the cover that first drew my eye to this book and I am glad I picked it up because this was one exciting story, even if now I have to wait forever for the next book to come out! There are quite a few important characters to keep track of in this book, besides Zahru, who is a nice character. There was nothing minor about them and some had intense plot points that I did not expect! I love when smaller characters don’t feel so minor and this was a nice surprise to see. It made it seem more real. There is also a bit of backstory for a couple so it was easy to understand why they did some things. This was the first book I read with this type of plot. I wasn’t sure how I would like the whole race for the throne aspect but it really brought an interesting take to the plot of sibling rivalry/capturing the throne. It had it’s fast paced moments and there really wasn’t much downtime. I did not want to put it down! Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were easy to connect with and the plot was an exciting ride. Plus, that ending was not expected! I’ll be anxiously awaiting for the next book because I need to know what happens.

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  • Incredible YA fantasy

    From the very first page, I was drawn to the world built by Natalie Mae. Orkena is a beautiful, magical place, as wonderful as it is flawed and as intriguing as it is mysterious. It is no mean feat to create a fictional setting in which a book takes place, and an even meaner feat to craft a world with its own religion, culture, and sense of tradition. I would say that Mae went above and beyond when it came to making the reader feel like they were really in a strange desert land filled with danger and semi-murderous, slightly entitled royalty. The characters were equally engaging – passionate and independent Zahru, bold and brash Hen, cold and unhinged Kasta, stubborn but compassionate Jet, and wild and determined Sakira. You know characters are well written when you can’t help but feel you know them – their hopes and fears and aspirations. I loved that each character felt like they had redeeming qualities and even the villain of the story wasn’t all bad. I also really appreciated that as much as Zahru wished it was different, her powers were always consistent. I’ve found that a lot of YA fantasy novels set the main character up to be someone with lackluster powers who, through some hardship, discovers they actually have awesome powers unlike any the world has ever seen. Although there’s nothing wrong with that particular angle, I liked that in The Kinder Poison, Zahru can still be her own hero without having to come into a rare ability – it’s enough that she’s a Whisperer. The fantastic world-building, captivating characters, and overall fast pacing made The Kinder Poison a quick, fun read that kept my attention from start to finish. It’s everything a YA fantasy should be, and I simply cannot wait to read the next book in the series! *Thank you BookishFirst and Razorbill for the opportunity to read a copy in exchange for an honest review

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  • A fun read!

    The Kinder Poison follows Zahru, a sympathetic protagonist who has the power to commune with animals. As amazing as that sounds, being a Whisperer places her in the lower ends of social status—far removed from royalty. But one mistake lands her in the middle of. The Crossing, a deadly race that ends with Zahru as the human sacrifice. This story is rife with rich fantasy, vivid world building, intrigue, morally gray characters, friendship, romance, and even humor. Overall, it was a fun read that entertained on many levels, leaving me eager to read the sequel. I would definitely recommend this book to readers of fantasy who enjoy political intrigue set within a monarchy entrenched in magic.

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  • The adventure never stops

    Zahru is a whisperer, which means she can talk to and understand animals. Hers is considered a lowly form of magic. She longs to escape her small town, explore the Kingdom of Orkena, and have some excitement and chocolate along the way. Her best friend devises a plan to fake her way onto a boat destined for the palace and crash a royal party. The King has announced that the Crossing will occur for the first time in 400 years - a treacherous race across the desert with a human sacrifice at the end - to determine which of the three heirs will rule Orkena. All does not go according to plan for Zahru; mistakes and misunderstandings occur which lead her to becoming the designated human sacrifice. She meets all three siblings over the course of the crossing and tries to see the best in each one. She uses her wits, her magic and her kindness to survive. The characters are the strength of this story. They are complex and have motives that aren't always immediately apparent. The magic system is interesting and original. A person's magic or lack of it dictates their place in the social hierarchy. The world building is well done and the pace never lets up. Just as Zahru escapes one sticky situation, she is thrown into another. This is the kind of fantasy novel that keeps you turning the pages. It is full of surprises and the adventure never stops. Bring on the next book!

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