Saturday 22 August 2020

Book Review: Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston (Fantasy)

Title: Master of Poisons
Author: Andrea Hairston
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: 8 September 2020
eBook - EPUB
ARC via NetGalley

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston's characteristic lush prose,
Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.


Master of Poisons has a lot going for it: an intriguing setting, interesting characters, a well-presented and fascinating magical element, and a pleasing prose style. There is QUILTBAG representation and an environmental message that isn't too preachy. It ticks a lot of boxes, and I really wanted to like it more than I did, but in the end I struggled to get through it. I found the pacing far too slow. My interest would spike briefly when something major happened, but in meantime my attention wavered and I found it difficult to connect with the action and the characters on a deeper level. There is absolutely nothing 'wrong' with the book to my mind, apart from the slow pacing; it simply wasn't a good fit for me. I am sure there are other readers out there who will love it. I am giving it three stars. There were elements I enjoyed and the book has merits; it just wasn't a piece that captured my heart.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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