Touch of Poison

A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry, (Algonquin Young Readers), 288 pages, release date 12 April, 2016

Lucas is the son of a wealthy American developer who spends his summers living in a Caribbean hotel owned by his father. For years, he’s heard stories about the mysterious house at the end of the street. It’s perpetually shuttered, its gates locked. The man who owns it is a scientist who’s said to have driven his wife to madness. If you write a wish on a slip of paper and toss it over the wall surrounding this house, common knowledge claims that your wish will come true.

After his girlfriend disappears, Lucas finds himself drawn to this house, and he befriends Isabel, the girl who lives there. Isabel is even more unusual than rumor has it. She’s poison. Her breath can kill. Her touch leaves a rash and sores that last for days, along with debilitating weakness.

Lucas and Isabel become amateur detectives, trying to uncover the secrets behind the disappearances of several young women. Given who Isabel is, the threats aren’t only external. By working with her, Lucas puts his health, and ultimately his life, at risk.

The publisher presents this as a title for ages 12 to 18, and readers in that group will find this an engaging read. balancing menace, mystery, and romance.

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