‘This Poison Heart’ Review: Kalynn Bayron Weaves a Fascinating and Magical Tale

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Kalynn Bayron’s much-anticipated next book has officially arrived, and it’s not to be missed.

Briseis Greene has an affinity for caring for plants – as in, she can grow them from seeds to lush and vibrant blooms simply by touching them. When Bri’s aunt dies and leaves Bri her estate in a rural part of New York, Briseis and her parents decide to head up there for the summer. Surrounded by plants and flowers of all kinds, Briseis hopes to learn to control her gift better, but she soon discovers that her lineage holds more secrets than she could possibly imagine.

One of the most standout aspects about the book is the overarching air of mystery, primarily regarding Bri’s ancestry. The mystery begins after Briseis learns about her aunt and only builds from there. Bayron steadily builds the suspense and intrigue, allowing the story to unfold at a carefully devised pace. Like Briseis, readers will want to learn everything about her family tree. But the beauty lies in how Bayron takes her time to offer answers. Along the way, she drops important tidbits that return later in the story. She doesn’t talk down to readers, but she also doesn’t withhold too much information. She provides all the clues so that readers can make their own predictions and enjoy the ride along the way.

Along with an intriguing mystery, Bayron creates an alluring cast of characters. As the story is told in first person through Bri’s point-of-view, readers learn more deeply about her mindset, her relationship with her parents, and the effect her powers have on her self-image (in both positive and negative ways). The people Briseis meets in Rhinebeck continue to up the ante. Bayron writes characters who both stir up more questions and answer existing ones. Briseis forms new and important relationships that keep the story interesting, especially through Karter and Marie.

This Poison Heart is nothing short of spellbinding. Readers will quickly devour it. Bayron imbues her story with Greek mythology while bringing her own unique and clever twist. She offers a contemporary fantasy that will appeal to readers who love the genre and readers looking to dip their toes in for the first time. Through Briseis, Bayron reminds readers to embrace their own inner power (though maybe not quite in the same way as Bri). The book is steeped in literal queer Black girl magic. We can’t think of anything more enchanting than that.

This Poison Heart is available now online and in stores.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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