Monday, December 19, 2011

Book review: Nightshade (The Poison Diaries Book 2)

Nightshade: The Poison Diaries
Dark, lush and seductively twisted, Nightshade, the second book in The Poison Diaries series, lures you into a Gothic world of poison, romance and cruel and deadly intention.

Nightshade: The Poison Diaries (HarperCollins)

Warning: Considering that this book is the second in the Poison Diaries series, this review may contain spoilers.

You might also want to check out my review of The Poison Diaries, before you read this review.


It's been some time since Jessamine has been healed from the poison she's been dealt, yet despite her recovery, she can't help but be heartbroken.

Weed, the boy she's fallen in love with has disappeared without a trace, and her stern and unyielding father has become increasingly remote; choosing to spend most of his days studying poisonous plants and tending to his deadly garden of poisonous plants.

What he doesn't know is that Jessamine, through her heartbreak, has become a lot more suspicious about his involvement regarding Weed's disappearance and has gained more knowledge and confidence in handling the dangerous plants that has always been a part of her life.

Upon stumbling across her father's secrets and learning that Weed is, in fact, alive and in danger, a new, darker and no-longer innocent Jessamine decides that she'll do whatever it takes to find her way back to him; including both killing whoever gets in her way and turning to a far darker, supernatural and poisonous source for help: Oleander, Prince of Poisons.

My thoughts:

The thing about book series or  trilogies is that one is often never sure if the second or third book in the series will live up to the expectations of the first.

Some books that are series should often be relegated to remaining standalones, while follow-ups to the first instalment in other books usually disappoint.

So you can imagine how wary I must have been when it came to reading Nightshade, the second book in The Poison Diaries series; especially considering that I had a few issues with book one (despite enjoying the read overall).

Needless to say, I was in for a fantastic surprise, because not only is Nightshade a fantastic and far superior follow-up to The Poison Diaries, but it's also the best sequel in a trilogy that I've read to date.

Everything about this book lures you in.

The beautiful writing, the Gothic and atmospheric settings, the personification of the plants and the depth, depravity and the twisted changes and growth we see in many of the characters; Jessamine in particular. 

The world Maryrose Wood has created is sinister and dangerous, but at the same time is also imbued with an alluring, menacing beauty that draws you into a world of romance, venomous plants and deadly intention.  

Back when we first met Jessamine, she was young, naive and very impressionable. Obedient and subservient to her father, she obeyed instruction without any question.

This time around, we see a darker, sultry and far more dangerous (and murderous) side to Jessamine.

For me, this was definitely one of the highlights of the novel.

I often love seeing how characters grow from novel to novel, and seeing how Jessamine changed, although in the most drastic and twisted manner possible, was beyond fascinating to me.

That Maryrose decided to opt for this new, wickedly provocative and no-longer innocent girl, for me, shows that she's an author that's not afraid to take her characters completely out of their and the reader's comfort zone.

And I, as weird as it may sound, was completely enthralled by Jessamine's drastic metamorphoses.

There's a new and deliberate suggestiveness to her actions that speaks of someone who is focused on doing whatever it takes to get what she wants.

She's bold, reckless, and very intense.

Most of her actions throughout the novel are certainly not something that we as readers would condone, and yet, for all that, she retains an innate inner goodness that still shines through and - at the end of the day - still had me rooting for her.

I have to say though, that as much as I love the sensitive and incredibly devoted Weed with his strange gift of talking to plants, the male character who really stole the show here, was Oleander, Prince of Poisons.

Perhaps the fact that I love this villain, speaks of my strange preference for seductive, broody characters with a bad-to-the-bone streak.

Whatever the case may be, Oleander's supernatural, mostly disembodied presence (Jessamine, for the most part, hears him in her mind), was a tangible, wickedly magnetic and deadly force that kept me captivated throughout the entire novel.

The influence he exerts over Jessamine is palpable and is a feeling that literally seeps into your own veins; making you feel as if you yourself were caught up in his lethal game.

It was case of her being the butterfly being trapped in the spider's web, and a case of me thinking: "... but oh, what a web to be trapped in.

(Ok, I have to say that at this point, I'm seriously beginning to worry that I like Oleander's character so much. Apparently my sense of self-preservation is non-existent) 

Ruler over deadly plants, his capacity to drive the now hopelessly lost Jessamine further and further into the depths of depravity, will have you either wishing Weed would rescue her, or have you willing Oleander to push her just a little further to see how far she can still go.

He's the puppet master holding all the strings, and she, fuelled by her desire to be reunited with Weed, is seduced into being a willing participant in his twisted game.

And herein lies the heart of this novel. It's not just an off-kilter story featuring murder, and romance, but it's a story that speaks of the very nature of humans and about what they are capable of doing when circumstances propel the person in question to act.

Often, when you see crime stories on TV, the murderer usually ends up being the neighbour who wouldn't dare hurt a fly. Nightshade doesn't outright express this sentiment, but it does show that the old adage, "never say never", definitely applies here.

My review wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention Weed and the plants.

His relationship with the plants have always fascinated me and what I really loved is that we really get a glimpse into his thoughts and the way he communicates with them from his perspective.

I complained that in The Poison Diaries, we weren't given much chance to get to know him, but Nightshade certainly made up for that in more than a few spades.

Weed is as dashing as he is honourable and I, while mostly caught up in Oleander's spell, couldn't help but love him too.
 
His devotion to Jessamine is incredible and the lengths which he goes to in order to try find and save her, will have every single reader wishing for a boyfriend like him.

And the talking plants?

That's something special you can only experience while reading the book. No amount of description can capture just how intriguing the plants are in their capacity to heal or kill given the right dosage and their ability to communicate with Weed, in a book review.

To sum it up:

Nightshade is a book of shadows and mystery, and one of murder and romance. It's a tangled weave of sweet and sinister, and a highly concentrated dose of venomous plants and sinful seduction.

If you love romance with a sinister plotline, then be prepared to be caught up in the darkly mesmerising spell of Nightshade. 

Oh, and the ending? Probably one of the best and most unexpected endings to a book I've read in a long time (although many will probably disagree with me).

Go out and get yourself a copy. It's definitely worth reading.

Better yet, why not enter the giveaway I'm hosting, here?

Disclaimer and a word of thanks: A huge, huge thank you goes out to Leanne and the Poison Diaries team for sending a review copy of Nightshade in exchange for an honest review! Please note that having received a free copy of this book, in no way affects my opinion of the book.

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