The Poison Diaries
By Maryrose Wood with the Duchess of Northumberland
Balzer and Bray
In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .
Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.
When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .
This Gothic tale takes place in Northern England in the middle of nowhere. Jessamine and her father live in a burned out crumbling abbey. As I read it I imagined dirt floors and crumbling stone, wind blowing through the chimney and an eternal chill in the place. Jessamine is lonely, her father doesn't speak to her unless it's to say he's leaving and her only companions are her diary and her plants. But not the secret garden. She knows about it, but her father keeps it locked and she is not allowed in, even at the age of sixteen.
But things change when Weed shows up, dumped on their doorstep because the owner of the local asylum is angry that he's curing his patients. Jessamine's father takes him in wanting to know his secrets, but Weed has none. No formulas to give. The plants just speak to him. Slowly a relationship forms between Jessamine and Weed and finally Jessamine's loneliness is replaced with something she's missed since her mother died.
Jessamine and Weed are both innocent and naive about the ways of the world and what power will do to a person. They soon find out. Jessamine falls very ill and Weed will do anything to cure her. And such is the way with Gothic novels, the two young lovers are split apart tragically.
There is a paranormal element to this novel I've not seen before, a living breathing poisonous prince. Created by the secret garden, the collection of the plants there, Prince Oleander rises to power and uses Weed and Jessamine for his own purposes.
I really enjoyed this first book in the series and was so glad to have the second, Nightshade, right on hand to start as soon as I finished this one. Anyone that loves Gothic novels, ya paranormal, and just a good ya novel will enjoy this novel.