Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

Author: Andrea Hairston
Publisher: Tor.com
Released: September 8th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Violence, rape (implied), torture (implied)

I received a copy of Master of Poisons in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Andrea Hairston’s Master of Poisons sets up a changing world, one that’s struggling to survive.

In a world full of magic, there’s only so much that can be done to stop the poisonous desert from creeping ever closer. Yet that is exactly what Djola hopes to do – to save his people, as the Master of Poisons it is his job.

“No hope without change, no change without sacrifice.”

Warnings: Master of Poisons touches upon many intense subjects, and portrays lots of violence, rape (implied), and torture (also implied).

Master of Poisons is the latest fantasy novel, one that highlights different struggles and attempts to survive. It’s a dark and dangerous world, and yet this novel has made a point of showing all of the reasons to find hope.

I’m honestly struggling on what to say about Master of Poisons. It’s an intriguing and brilliant novel, of that I have no doubt. But I also really struggled with this one. It always felt like I was playing catchup – like I was struggling to put the pieces of the world together in a way that made sense for me. I’m not sure if that’s just me, or the mood I was in while reading, or what.

I do know that it kept me from feeling any real connection to this book. Which is a shame, as I really really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did.

That isn’t to say that I disliked it. The writing was brilliant, as was much of the world. I just didn’t feel much of a connection to any of it. Ironically, if a sequel was to come out, I would read that in a heartbeat. I can’t help but feel like I’m on the verge of a breakthrough, and that at any moment a sudden rush of understanding will hit me, and suddenly make me love the book. At least, that’s what I’d like to think. I hope that all makes sense.

I did find the magical system to be intriguing, and sincerely would have loved to see more of it (I feel like I say that a lot, but it really is true). The fantasy worlds portrayed were brilliant and bold, showing the good and the bad. The potential, as well as the struggles to get there.

While I did struggle a bit, as mentioned, I never had any problem understanding the stakes at hand. Hairston made it very clear what was at stake, and thus what would be lost of Djola’s goal failed. That brought the fantasy elements back down to a darker level, but not in a bad way.

Finally, the writing within Master of Poisons is wonderfully done. There are times where it almost flows like prose, and it’s hard not to respect the heck out of that. Here’s hoping for more of it’s kind down the line.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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