An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Publication: February 26th 2019
My Rating: 4/5
After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.
Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant Dauphin. Forced to hide in the derelict sewers beneath the city, any hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible—until Josse’s path collides with Mirabelle’s, and he finds a surprising ally in his sworn enemy.
She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. Together, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?
This book was provided to me by Page Street Kids for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This is historical fantasy brimming with dark magic and personal betrayals. This story is loosely based on a real-life person La Vision and poisoner in France who was trying to kill the Sun King. She failed and got executed in our timeline, but what would happen if she succeeded?
Cue in An Affair of Poisons.
We follow the story of Mirabelle and Josse. Mirabelle’s mother poisoned King Louis XIV, and after these actions, Mirabelle begins to question her mother’s methods and defies her — trying to protect the people in Paris from the Shadow Society.
Josse is the royal bastard of the late king, who is desperately trying to protect his sisters and brother from the Shadow Society.
Mirabelle and Josse meet under a dire situation and band together to bring down the Shadow Society.
Addie Thorley immediately captivates you in the first chapter as you witness the murder of King Louis XIV. Immediately taking an inside look of Mirabelle’s morals through richly detailed description of the dark atmosphere of 17th century Paris. Many historical novels are drowned with excess background information that slows down the pacing, but An Affair of Poisons was not a historical info-dump. This fast-paced novel only gives you the historical information you need to know to understand the progression of the story.
She weaves magic and fantasy in such a way that it actually feels natural to the world, rather than an unworldly phenomenon. The magic in this world is largely based on alchemy, in which Ms. Thorley’s descriptions make it seem like a recipe we can try ourselves. I believe the way alchemy is used is what makes this story so unique because it feels like anyone can perform miracles with the right recipe.
While the world and the prose was lush and wicked, the characters were flat. It felt that none of these characters went through any real changes after all the events in the novel. The Josse and Mirabelle at the start of the story felt the same at the end of the novel. Especially Josse’s wishy-washy feelings for Mirabelle every time something went wrong. You’d think that after saving so many lives and missing death several times together their trust would be strong. The slow burn romance was cute and enjoyable, but I felt that characters — Josse, in particular, did not change much.
It’s always fun to read novels where the main antagonist is of close blood relation to the protagonist. The internal conflict Mirabelle’s had to go through is another highlight of the novel. What if the person you love, admire and wish to please is the one hurting the world? What do you do? Ms. Thorley did a fantastic job tackling this question.
If you love alternate universes, French history, slow burn romances, magic and fast-paced action this novel is for you. Don’t miss out of this spectacular historical debut.