Friday, 17 June 2011

Book review : The Poison Diaries - Maryrose Wood

Wow ! It's rare for a children's book to really suck me in and make me read on well past any reasonable hour when I've got to go to work the next day, but that's what happened with The Poison Diaries. I've seen a lot of buzz on twitter and online about the book, but I came to it with a totally open mind and no idea of what to expect. Well, I flew through it in two days !

The book immediately introduces us to two characters, Jessamine and her father. Jessamine is keeping house in a dilapidated cottage but we initially have no clear idea of how old she is or of the historical setting of the book. This gives it a timeless, universal quality that seems to speak of human nature and common truths in general, rather than the tale of one individual. We later learn that Jessamine is aged 16, on the cusp of womanhood. She leads a lonely, often solitary, existence helping her largely absent botanist father with his work but excluded from his top secret poison garden, in which he keeps his most interesting and dangerous specimens.

The sudden arrival of a strange young boy called Weed will throw their lives and emotions into turmoil. Jessamine feels the first stirrings of young love and desire as she grows close to this strange boy. Her father is also piqued with desire, recognising a wealth of botanical wisdom in the boy that he envies and will go to any lengths to appropriate for himself. Cue a whirling mass of deceit, passion and betrayal.

The whole book revolves around these three characters and the complicated emotional ties that link them. The narrative is often poetic, magical, almost lyrical and although the story remains childlike, it is a book which will appeal to adults too. (The suggested reading age on the back of the book is 13+.) The twists and turns in the later part of the book lead us to really think about what it means to love someone and you can't help but get caught up in the no-win situation the young lovers find themselves in. I'm sure you could also analyse the relationship between the father and daughter in the wake of the new young man's arrival in Freudian psychoanalytical terms but that just goes to show that this childish read works on so many different level. It's a deceptively simple work of art and, above all, a cracking read.

I've just discovered that The Poison Diaries is the first episode in a trilogy so I'll definitely be looking out for the other two books. Episode two will be released in September 2011 - fingers crossed I get an early release copy for review before then as I can't wait !

star rating : 5/5
RRP : £6.99 (but only £4.47 on amazon)

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks (27 May 2010)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0007354436
ISBN-13: 978-0007354436

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. Never mind the kids, this looks like something I'd want to read!

  2. Definitely !! I can't wait to get my hands on the next instalment ! :)

  3. Sounds intriguing. I think myself and my daughters would enjoy it. Thanks for reviewing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...