Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

Publisher: Big Mouth House Books
Publication Date: February 9th, 2010

Poisonous girls whose kisses will kill. A fateful eating contest with the devil. Faeries who return to Ironside, searching for love. A junior prom turned bacchanalia. In twelve short stories, eerie and brimming with suspense and unexpected humor, Holly Black twists the fantastical creatures you thought you knew in ways you’ll never expect.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I am a huge fan of Holly Black. I discovered her several years ago when I read The Spiderwick Chronicles with my oldest daughter; at that time, I had no idea that she wrote YA. When I heard about her other books, I was eager to them. I absolutely loved the anthologies Zombies vs. Unicorns and Geektastic (she was a contributor and co-editor of both). When her newest series, The Curse Workers began, I was eager to to start reading it, and I haven't been disappointed by either White Cat or Red Glove. When I stumbled up on The Poison Eaters, this past spring, I was surprised because I hadn't heard of it. I was also delighted because, unlike the many other short story collections she's been involved with, these stories are all hers.

I finally got around to reading this recently and I really enjoyed it. Usually when I read a collection of short stories, there are at least a few that I don't like. This is typically even more of a fact if the entire anthology is by the same author. Fortunately, this was not the case at all with this book. While I didn't LOVE every story, there was not one single story of the 12 that I disliked. I had favorites, for sure, but I thought they were all well written and entertaining.

My favorite story was a hard call, but I think I have to go with A Reversal of Fortune, in which a girl challenges the devil to an eating contest in order to save her beloved dog. It was very well done and I liked the smart protagonist. An extremely close second was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. It was a very different take on the whole vampire thing. Scott Westerfeld's novel, Peeps, is one of my favorite vampire stories ever, and this reminded slightly of it. Also near the top of the list were Vodka Veritas, The Coat of Stars, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and The Night Market. Again, all in all, I liked every story, but there were definitely standouts. Some of the stories could have easily been drawn out into novels, but were just fine as short stories because of Holly Black's talent for writing them.

Anyone who is a fan of Holly Black and/or Urban Fantasy will love this book. Short story aficionados won't be disappointed either. This is a quick read, and a very solid collection that I wish were more well known.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Grade Level Recommendation: The subject matter is rather mature in some of the stories, much like the anthologies that Black has edited; there's sex, teen drinking, and drug use. I would probably say this is a HS book. Ages 14+ (grades 9 and up).


  1. This sounds really interesting. It has been added to my to read list

  2. I loved this book and the cover is amazing!

  3. Can't believe I'd never heard of this! Another addition to my TBR!!


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