Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: November 10th, 2020
Synopsis: Poppy, Lily, and Belladonna would do anything to protect their best friend, Raven. So when they discovered he was suffering abuse at the hands of his stepmother, they came up with a lethal plan: petals of poppy, belladonna, and lily in her evening tea so she’d never be able to hurt Raven again. But someone got cold feet, the plot faded to a secret of the past, and the group fell apart.
Three years later, on the eve of Raven’s birthday, his stepmother turns up dead. But it’s only belladonna found in her tea, and it’s only Belladonna who’s carted off to jail. Desperate for help, Belle reaches out to her estranged friends to prove her innocence. They answer the call, but no one is prepared for what comes next.
Now everyone has something to lose, and something equally dangerous to hide. And when the tangled web of secrets and betrayal is finally unwound, what lies at its heart will change the group forever.
I have to be honest and say that I’ve been waffling on how to rate and review Lies Like Poison. There is no doubt that Chelsea Pitcher’s writing style is beautifully lyrical which completely enthralled me. However, I did find a few weaknesses which detracted from the story.
The story is told from the perspectives of Belladonna, Poppy/Jack, and Lily. They all have secrets they’re keeping from each other and Raven, and their unreliability kept me me on my toes for a good portion of the book as to what actually happened the day Raven’s stepmother died. There’s also the mystery of who killed Raven’s mother and both wind up becoming intertwined.
The characters are diverse and interesting. Raven is black, fragile, and very sweet, and it’s heartbreaking what he’s suffered. Two of the girls are in a romantic relationship, which I didn’t really by into at first, but as more of their backstories are revealed, I understood their connection more. But I was especially interested in Poppy/Jack who in addition to dealing with the murder, is also coming to terms with how being trans will effect his relationship with Raven. I absolutely loved his relationship with Raven, and that wound up being my favorite part of the book.
Adults do not come across well in this tale. Even the one parent who I initially liked and was sympathetic to, let me down in the end. I really don’t like books that use this one dimensional type of character development as it never seems plausible to me.
The story itself starts out a little slow, but soon gathers speed. There aren’t many shocking surprises except for one twist near the somewhat too-neat ending, but what saves this from being a ho-hum story is Pitcher’s evocative and poetic writing.
After mulling it over, I’m giving Lies Like Poison 4 Stars instead of the 3 to 3 1/2 stars which was my original intent. Despite its flaws, this contemporary murder mystery, with dark fairytale themes, turned out to be quite memorable, as did its main characters, which makes it a success for me.