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A Fierce and Subtle Poison

by Samantha Mabry

Published by Algonquin, 2016
279 pages
ISBN: 978-1-61620-521-8

14 and older

Lucas has spent every summer since he was 10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The son of a hated gringo hotel developer and a Puerto Rican mother who left when he was small, he is unpopular at best, except with a small group of local boys heís been friends with from childhood. For years, people in the town have told stories about the house at the end of Calle Sol. Itís always shuttered, surrounded by a wall, and everyone says itís been cursed. Still, thereís a tradition of people throwing little bits of paper over the wall with their wishes written on them. When Lucasís love interest, Marisol, does this, she disappears soon after, washing ashore a few days later. And she isnít the first girl to have gone missing and later been found dead. Then a small slip of paper with one of Lucasís long- ago wishes shows up by his bedside. Lucasís curiosity gets the better of him and he jumps over the wall. What he finds there is Isabel, a girl whose very touch is deadly. Mysterious, dangerous, disturbing, and deeply intoxicating, Isabel has been keeper of all the wishes. And sheóor someone on the other side of that wallóalso may, or may not, be behind the disappearances of young women and girls. In a superb debut novel, Mabry explores myth, heroism, identity, and loss through magical realism. (Age 14 and older)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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