Jessica Cluess: A Poison Dark and Drowning

Check out my review of A Shadow Bright and Burning first!

The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

How could you make the first cover more gorgeous? MAKE IT PURPLE! These books are just so beautiful I can’t stand it. They might be my new favorite hardcovers that I own.

Not only was the second cover prettier, but I think the story itself improved in the second book. Things really got down to business–the sorcerers have been commended, the bad guys have been established, the war has begun. The book begins with Henrietta and her team scattered throughout England at their assigned battle stations, learning how to fight in earnest. I liked that the training didn’t stop once commendation happened–just because they are our plot drivers, they are still young and needed guidance.

Speaking of which, I do have a bit of a hard time grasping onto the main characters only being teenagers–ESPECIALLY Blackwood. How is he only seventeen? I sort of feel like Cluess made them a little too young, almost to fit into that Young Adult genre. Blackwood’s characterization feels way older than that–he’s at least 25, in everything but age–he’s an Edward Rochesteresque guy, and to have him barely out of short pants just doesn’t work for me. Jane Eyre…erm….Henrietta can be younger, 17-18, because that makes sense for the way she’s rewriting the story, but Blackwood is too experienced to just be 17.

I can’t go into too much detail because it would be so easy to spoil this book. But it was so hard to put it down. I just love how Cluess has mixed Victorian England with magical fantasy. Also, some of the problems I had in the first book are resolved in the second, and that may have been why I enjoyed it more. When I started this series, I thought I would get through this one, and not continue on when the third book came out, but now I’m looking forward to it!

Penguin Random House and Blogging for Books provided a copy of this book for unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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