Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields

A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive—like a poison kiss—and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

“Kiss me, I dare you.” Is a line that will linger on your lips, long after you have finished reading the 288 pages of Breeana Shield’s Poison’s Kiss.

We are born with the notion that our parents love us. That they would do anything to protect us, how delusional some have become, when the price of a child’s life outweighs that of an addiction, anything becomes possible.

Marinda’s world is one that none would enter willingly. Tainted from birth and feared by many, her power to kill, with a simple kiss, is enough to scare you from ever planting a kiss on someone you love.

Sold by her parents and injected with venom, Marinda becomes the ultimate Assassin. They say that a kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but a kiss from Marinda could cost you your life.  Cursed, left to fend for herself and her little brother, Mani, Marinda has no choice but to follow orders to kill. Many have died from her kiss, and that has always plagued Marinda. However, her latest assignment begins to create questions that she never dared to ask before, of herself and of those she works for; the Raja. Some questions should not be asked, and as Marinda’s journey unfolds, those closest to her pay the price. When you’re brought up to be feared and used as a weapon, your own identity is stolen, so when Marinda summons the courage to ask questions, she quickly realizes that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

“Fear is the fuel of bravery,” and that is exactly what drives our protagonist. If Marinda has been created to kill, then she’s going to kill on her own terms. However, “a person will more easily believe a sweet lie than a bitter truth”.

It is an intricate tale of Indian folklore that I have never heard of before, so I found the tale interesting and fast paced. Shield’s doesn’t waste any time getting to the centre of the story, nor does she sugar coat her characters feelings. The tale is told in first person and uses such vivid, descriptive writing, and plenty of nouns, that any English teacher would be proud to use it as an example of how to write a story.

8/10 A rich, surprising and accessible debut based on Indian folklore

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