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Blood to Poison

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Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It's a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella's girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella's girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die. The Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It's a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella's girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella's girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die. The anger is bursting from Savannah - at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother's disingenuous fiancé, even at her own loving family. Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because the key to survival lies in the underbelly of Cape Town, where the sinister veilwitches are waiting for just such a girl. Blood to Poison is a furious and mesmerising story about discovering magic, historical rage and love in all its guises.


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Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It's a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella's girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella's girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die. The Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It's a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella's girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella's girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die. The anger is bursting from Savannah - at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother's disingenuous fiancé, even at her own loving family. Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because the key to survival lies in the underbelly of Cape Town, where the sinister veilwitches are waiting for just such a girl. Blood to Poison is a furious and mesmerising story about discovering magic, historical rage and love in all its guises.

30 review for Blood to Poison

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    I think the premise of this book is excellent-- South African urban fantasy with veilwitches, prophecies, curses, and girls getting angry. Savannah is descended from Hella, a slave during colonial times who cursed her enslaver and all his descendents to die young, not knowing his child was growing inside her. Now it's Savannah's turn to face the curse and she isn't about to go down gently. Sounds fantastic, right? Unfortunately, I don't think it ever really came together. The mythology - which so i I think the premise of this book is excellent-- South African urban fantasy with veilwitches, prophecies, curses, and girls getting angry. Savannah is descended from Hella, a slave during colonial times who cursed her enslaver and all his descendents to die young, not knowing his child was growing inside her. Now it's Savannah's turn to face the curse and she isn't about to go down gently. Sounds fantastic, right? Unfortunately, I don't think it ever really came together. The mythology - which so intrigued me at the start - quickly became convoluted and I won't pretend I understood everything that was going on with the Jackal, the Arrow, the Claw and the Worm. A lot of plot points lacked cohesion: this happened, then this happened, then this happened and it felt a bit like stopping and starting, never running smoothly together. In fact, the whole book was a bit like that. I would just start to get interested in something, then the story would get bogged down with forgettable side characters and scenes that didn't seem important (like the romance, which did nothing for me). It made it very difficult to stick with it. But I did stick with it and the ending was quite good... it is only unfortunate that I wasn't more invested in the story throughout, as I think that would have given the ending a bigger impact. Also, a major factor that drew me to this book was this part of the blurb: The anger is bursting from Savannah - at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother's disingenuous fiancé, even at her own loving family. Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because I love angry girls. I get angry girls. It's why I like Courtney Summers, Elana K. Arnold and, more recently, Louise O'Neill. But Savannah's anger at the unfairness around her is, we quickly discover, an anger brought on by supernatural means, which was less interesting to me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Shannon

    I loved Mary Watson's haunting debut, The Wren Hunt, so I fully expected to like this just as much – and I did. Blood to Poison is a gripping exploration and vindication of anger, rooted in South African history. It was great to read about a young woman who is given room to be angry, confident and kind, all at once. Savannah has a lot to be angry about, and her anger remains a source of strength, even as she wrestles with its intensity. Read this one for witches, a family curse, falling for a chi I loved Mary Watson's haunting debut, The Wren Hunt, so I fully expected to like this just as much – and I did. Blood to Poison is a gripping exploration and vindication of anger, rooted in South African history. It was great to read about a young woman who is given room to be angry, confident and kind, all at once. Savannah has a lot to be angry about, and her anger remains a source of strength, even as she wrestles with its intensity. Read this one for witches, a family curse, falling for a childhood friend, girls both expressing and claiming their fury, and a magical Cape Town. Note: I received a free Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    THE COVER

  4. 4 out of 5

    kate

    Childhood best friends-to-lovers, angry girls, South African history, generational curses, feminist understones and rival witch markets, what’s not to love? This was a fantastic exploration of misogyny, generational pain and the power of girls harnessing their anger and it was brilliant. With high stakes, a compelling protagonist and twists and turns that genuinely took me by surprise, this fast paced urban fantasy had me gripped from the first page until the last and one I’d highly recommend. TW Childhood best friends-to-lovers, angry girls, South African history, generational curses, feminist understones and rival witch markets, what’s not to love? This was a fantastic exploration of misogyny, generational pain and the power of girls harnessing their anger and it was brilliant. With high stakes, a compelling protagonist and twists and turns that genuinely took me by surprise, this fast paced urban fantasy had me gripped from the first page until the last and one I’d highly recommend. TW: racism, abuse. magic induced self harm, misogyny, sexual harassment

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Leighton

    4.5 stars Blood To Posion is a breathtakingly powerful and uniquely magical, YA contemporary fantasy that’s rooted in South African history, exploring generational trauma, slavery, racism and misogyny in this brilliantly wrought coming of age tale of family curses, veilwitches and justifiably angry girls. seventeen year old Savannah is cursed—a blood curse which has plagued her family for centuries, causing an all-consuming anger in one woman every generation. A woman destined to die young. ‘Hel 4.5 stars Blood To Posion is a breathtakingly powerful and uniquely magical, YA contemporary fantasy that’s rooted in South African history, exploring generational trauma, slavery, racism and misogyny in this brilliantly wrought coming of age tale of family curses, veilwitches and justifiably angry girls. seventeen year old Savannah is cursed—a blood curse which has plagued her family for centuries, causing an all-consuming anger in one woman every generation. A woman destined to die young. ‘Hella’s girls’ they’re called, named for their ancestor Hella, the enslaved woman with whom it all began. But Savannah doesn’t plan to die like the countless women before her, instead she plans to break the curse—and sets out on a journey which leads her into a world of secrets, hidden magic, and a war between witch factions— and the veil witches, who’ve been waiting for just such a girl… This was an absolutely stunning and immersive read set amongst the backdrop of Cape Town blending magical realism with it’s bloody history and centuries of injustice (from the horrors of slavery and the apartheid to the racism and sexism that’s still prevalent today.) Creating a powerfully poignant, bold and timely tale of empowerment, rage and pain—a vindication of sorts for anyone (but especially for POC) who have faced or been forced to endure terrible injustice. This is the first book by Mary Watson that I’ve read but her exquisite writing style (blending important issues with magic, folklore, an emotionally endearing protagonist and her own incredible heritage) was absolutely magnificent and I’ll definitely be adding her previous books to my TBR! Savannah was a phenomenally strong (and formidable) character that I absolutely loved. She’s filled with an unfathomable rage she has trouble controlling (thanks to the curse) but, her relationship with this anger (and the magic entwined within it) does evolve throughout the book—the development of which was handled spectacularly. Savannah’s familial relationships with her large family of aunts, uncles and cousins was also develops too (especially her relationship with her mother Kim who’s she’s felt particularly close to but is still quite protective of.) I also really liked her uncle Harrison and childhood friend/frenemy Dex. I loved the childhood friends to lovers trope and the slow-burn, chemistry laden scenes which were absolute perfection! 10/10 for the swooniness—we also get a close proximity scene inside a wardrobe which I very much enjoyed! Overall, this is an incredibly addictive, fast paced and gloriously plot twisty YA fantasy filled the bursting with secret societies, warring witches, blood curses, sinister villains and utterly compelling characters that will keep you glued until the very last page. Also thanks to Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley for the e-arc..

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fanna

    16.01.2022 centuries old family curse and dangerous, forbidden magic would've been enough to pull me in but i knew i have to read it when there's a furious heroine and an old friends-to-lovers trope. guess what, i can read it now; yay for an early copy! 16.01.2022 centuries old family curse and dangerous, forbidden magic would've been enough to pull me in but i knew i have to read it when there's a furious heroine and an old friends-to-lovers trope. guess what, i can read it now; yay for an early copy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    steph ♡

    I didn't even have this on my radar and read it on a whim, lo and behold, it ended up being one of the best things I've read this year. More to come once I gather all my thoughts but the conclusion is this is fantastic, period I didn't even have this on my radar and read it on a whim, lo and behold, it ended up being one of the best things I've read this year. More to come once I gather all my thoughts but the conclusion is this is fantastic, period

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish

    Set in South Africa, this is a powerful feminist tale of family curses, magic that's passed on to generations, rage, and overall, love. This is a twisty story that kept me guessing throughout, delivering a powerful ending with, thankfully, no pantomime villain reveal. There's a lot of characters in this story, both friends and family members, but they were also so vivid that it was easy to keep up with them. I liked the love interest Dex was shown to be a complex, multi-faceted character with his Set in South Africa, this is a powerful feminist tale of family curses, magic that's passed on to generations, rage, and overall, love. This is a twisty story that kept me guessing throughout, delivering a powerful ending with, thankfully, no pantomime villain reveal. There's a lot of characters in this story, both friends and family members, but they were also so vivid that it was easy to keep up with them. I liked the love interest Dex was shown to be a complex, multi-faceted character with his own flaws, and that made me love him more. Racing against time as Savannah tries to unlock the secrets of her curse and finally beat it before it kills her too, the ending is jaw-droppingly good, and fits in perfectly with the story's theme of female rage, generational trauma and feminism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. What a book. A refreshing YA contemporary fantasy that merges magic with South African history. I couldn't put this book down. What I loved: - The way Mary Watson weaves a magical history into South Africa's history of slavery whilst simultaneously exploring issues of racism and generational trauma. A family curse that descends from an enslaved ancestor. - The cover. The cover is beautiful but can be fully apprec Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. What a book. A refreshing YA contemporary fantasy that merges magic with South African history. I couldn't put this book down. What I loved: - The way Mary Watson weaves a magical history into South Africa's history of slavery whilst simultaneously exploring issues of racism and generational trauma. A family curse that descends from an enslaved ancestor. - The cover. The cover is beautiful but can be fully appreciated after you've finished reading - so satisfying! - Savannah is a brilliant MC. She is full of anger that she cannot explain nor control and is forced to navigate it alone. We see Savannah try to understand her rage, her power, and ultimately her identity. - The whole supporting cast is an array of colourful characters who are fully fleshed out. Everyone has motive, everyone has personality, everyone brings something to the table; something that is hard to find in some YA's - I didn't see the twists/reveals coming. I was constantly guessing as to the identity of a certain antagonist and am pleased to say that Watson caught me off guard! - Magic is messy and the line between good and evil is blurry and not the same for everyone. What I didn't connect with: - Whilst I am a fan of friends to lovers and slow burn, I didn't quite connect with the burgeoning relationship. I felt we didn't have the necessary build up/back story. And it felt more like insta-love. BUT, that's me personally and I know plenty who really enjoyed this aspect. Read if you love: - YA Contemporary Fantasy - Slow burn romance - Friends to lovers - Strong female MC - Reading: Lore, Only a Monster, A Far Wilder Magic

  10. 4 out of 5

    S.A. Partridge

    Seventeen-year-old Savannah is angry, its an anger that has travelled through her family as a curse – a curse she is determined to lift. But blood curses are nearly impossible to break, and in her quest to discover the answers, Savannah finds herself in the middle of a war between rival factions of witches. Blood to Poison is Mary Watson's third magical young adult novel (YA) with Bloomsbury, and it's just as immersive and wonderful, with just a lick of darkness to set it apart. While Watson' Seventeen-year-old Savannah is angry, its an anger that has travelled through her family as a curse – a curse she is determined to lift. But blood curses are nearly impossible to break, and in her quest to discover the answers, Savannah finds herself in the middle of a war between rival factions of witches. Blood to Poison is Mary Watson's third magical young adult novel (YA) with Bloomsbury, and it's just as immersive and wonderful, with just a lick of darkness to set it apart. While Watson's previous two magical novels The Wren Hunt and The Wickerlight were set in dreamy Ireland, Blood to Poison is set on more familiar terrain – Cape Town, South Africa, where the author was born and raised. Watson has transformed familiar locations like Green Market Square, the old Rhodes zoo, and Wynberg Park with a veneer of magical realism. Even Savannah's anger, which fuels her magical ability, is firmly rooted in South Africa. It an anger borne from racial injustice and the violence against women that is so prevalent here. Magic permeates every aspect of Savannah's world, including her large family of cousins and aunties who discuss the family curse like most people discuss the weather. The fast pace and high stakes propel the reader deeper into this dangerous magical underworld as we follow Savannah's journey to discover her true power. Watson's skill with storytelling is incredible (in fact, I consider her one of the best out there) and Blood to Poison is a compulsive read. It has everything a bestselling YA novel needs: secret societies, deliciously evil villains, love, and enough twists to keep you gasping from beginning to end.

  11. 4 out of 5

    PigginDani

    An absolutely mesmerising and powerful YA fantasy in which the injustice, trauma, and pain suffered by generations of POC in South Africa, is told by entwining real beliefs and history with the captivating powers of fantasy & magic. A curse that has plagued generations is set to claim Savannah next. The rage she feels within is becoming stronger every day. With each outburst, her skin is marked and her days numbered. This cursed magic is seen as a weakness, but as Savannah sets about ending the c An absolutely mesmerising and powerful YA fantasy in which the injustice, trauma, and pain suffered by generations of POC in South Africa, is told by entwining real beliefs and history with the captivating powers of fantasy & magic. A curse that has plagued generations is set to claim Savannah next. The rage she feels within is becoming stronger every day. With each outburst, her skin is marked and her days numbered. This cursed magic is seen as a weakness, but as Savannah sets about ending the curse for good, she soon discovered that there is strength in her anger. This curse is rooted in the evils that blight such a beautiful country. Generations of suffering stemming from the horrors of slavery and the apartheid, with POC still being subjected to racial persecution and women dealing with sexism and violence daily. With such a heartbreaking history and present, the rage WOC feel is truly justified. Mary Watson has infused witches and magic with everyday life in a raw & captivating way that has you falling in love with her bold storytelling. Also, I can’t leave a review without mentioning the outrageous array of delightful & wacky family members. From Aunties & Uncles to childhood friends & neighbours that add to this enchanting story. They fill the pages with love, laughter, strength, courage, and so much joy. I feel blessed to have read this and can’t wait to add it to my collection. Thank you. 2 final things: 1: The cover is even more stunning after you’ve read the book & 2: You (IMO) MUST read the author's note!  Thank you NetGalley & Bloomsbury Publishing for the gift of the ebook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Content Warnings: violence, death, sexual harassment, racism, generational trauma, mentioned slavery This cover alone was enough to sell me on this book and boy did it deliver. This was so so good. Blood to Poison is a YA magical realism/urban fantasy set in South Africa. Savannah's family bears a curse: some of its daughters are 'Hella's girls', cursed with a powerful, all-consuming anger and fated to die young. Savannah is one of them. With her anger growing and her death nearing, Savannah's onl Content Warnings: violence, death, sexual harassment, racism, generational trauma, mentioned slavery This cover alone was enough to sell me on this book and boy did it deliver. This was so so good. Blood to Poison is a YA magical realism/urban fantasy set in South Africa. Savannah's family bears a curse: some of its daughters are 'Hella's girls', cursed with a powerful, all-consuming anger and fated to die young. Savannah is one of them. With her anger growing and her death nearing, Savannah's only option is to break the curse. This mission leads her into a hidden world of magic, veilwitches, and powerful secrets. I haven't read any of Mary Watson's books before, but I really love her writing style based on this one, I found it very engaging. The story here is very much a classic YA fantasy one, but Watson weaves the themes of generational trauma, anger, and inequality seamlessly into the narrative. The characters are a real strong point for this novel. I love Savannah, and particularly enjoyed the development of her relationship with her anger. Her character development throughout the book is really excellent. I also really loved the relationships. Estranged childhood friends to lovers remains an elite trope, but I found the familial relationships in this book the most compelling. Towards the end, I had some very slight issues with the pacing and amount of exposition being given, but overall this was an absolutely fantastic read. Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and Mary Watson for the ARC of this novel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    The central premise of this novel was hugely intriguing, a kind of urban fantasy vibe, rich in cultural intricacies and full of magical world building. I enjoyed it for the most part and the ending was brilliant- the only downside for me was a central point incoherence- the world building if you like became over convoluted and I occasionally literally lost the plot - overall though an imaginative piece of storytelling with some great characters.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Harkx

    I loved what the book said it would do in the beginning. If it weren’t for the predictability and some plot holes it would have had a higher rating from me. I loved the setting and I loved the educational aspects of the book. It sometimes made me feel uncomfortable, but that was a good thing!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Becky'sBookBlog

    Savannah has always known her life span is limited. A family curse, passed down the bloodlines means every generation will birth a daughter of ‘Hella’ the family member who accidently cursed her own bloodline generations ago. Savannah is fighting for her life, but she may have found a way to end the curse once and for all, the only issue, ending the curse may kill Savannah in the process and if it doesn’t, there are plenty of people out there who would kill her for her power. Savannah will have Savannah has always known her life span is limited. A family curse, passed down the bloodlines means every generation will birth a daughter of ‘Hella’ the family member who accidently cursed her own bloodline generations ago. Savannah is fighting for her life, but she may have found a way to end the curse once and for all, the only issue, ending the curse may kill Savannah in the process and if it doesn’t, there are plenty of people out there who would kill her for her power. Savannah will have to look to the past as well as the future, and be willing to accept every part of herself if she is to end the curse and make it out alive, but the harder she looks, the more she realises the curse isn’t the only thing she needs to worry about, and she has to learn who to put her faith in before it’s too late. If there’s one word I had to use to describe this book it would be angry. Savannah knows that her anger makes the curse affect her faster, that each time she brings it out her lifespan lessens, but in a world where she is looked down on for her skin colour, for the way she dresses, for her sex, it’s hard not to be angry every single minute of every single day. She’s angry at the way her mom’s fiancée treats her, for how her family look at her with pity in their eyes knowing she is bound to die young, at her aunt for dying before telling her how to deal with the curse. But she is also incredibly determined, once she realises that there is a way for the curse to be ended she knows she has to try, not only to save her own life, but for the generations of Hella’s girls that are bound to come after her. She is incredibly strong willed, even when she is terrified and doesn’t know who she can rely on, and I couldn’t help but get invested in her story and want it to end as happily as it can. I love a well build side cast and Watson definitely delivers in this book. Everyone from Savannah’s mother, aunts, cousins all play a part in the story and I loved the scenes when they were together as a family. Seeing the love and concern they all have for each other, as well as the general scheming aunties and teasing cousins. We also have Savannah’s friends, Rosie and Dex who returned to Cape Town after years away. Every character plays some part in the story, even if it’s just to add a bit of levity to a heavy and brutal story, and I loved seeing her interact with them all, coming to realise that she doesn’t have to live with this curse all by herself. Blood to Poison effortlessly transports you to the backstreets of Cape Town, and Watson manages to give us a wealth of folklore to go along with her fantasy. It did take me a little while to find my place in the story, there’s no real easing into the magic system, but once I got my head around it I found myself engrossed in the story and wanting to learn more about the magical underbelly to Cape Town that Watson creates. Watson uses the history of Cape Town, it’s bloody history of slavery, racism, sexism as well as the apartheid to really allow us to understand, not only Savannah’s anger, but the anger of a people who have been living with these injustices their whole lives. Watson’s writing style is incredibly atmospheric and ensures you feel transported whilst reading the story. The pacing was well done, there were no real lags and in fact, I felt sometimes the plot jumped quite erratically, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment. She also implements multiple plot twists that help keep the story fresh and us as the reader intrigued, some that definitely hit a little harder than others. This may have been my first book by Watson, but it certainly wont be my last. Perfect for lovers of folklore, unapologetically angry characters and a little mystery added into their fantasy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda-Jaied Wathern

    When I start thinking about my review for books I always like to think “what did I NOT like” first because that’s usually the easiest thing to think of. With Blood to Poison when I asked myself that question I had nothing! Blood to Poison manages to weave a tale of a cursed girl, simmering (and at times boiling) coming of age anger, generational trauma and magic, into a well paced, intense, interesting story that I couldn’t get enough of.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Blood to Poison was an enthralling, captivating and intriguing read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading from the perspective of Savannah - our protagonist. Savannah is a wild girl, bursting with anger, passion and perseverance. I loved the history in this book, it was really interesting, however there was quite a lot to take in. This novel had many deep, meaningful quotes within. One particular quote that grabbed my attention was ‘Things that seem big and insurmountable don’t always matter as much as Blood to Poison was an enthralling, captivating and intriguing read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading from the perspective of Savannah - our protagonist. Savannah is a wild girl, bursting with anger, passion and perseverance. I loved the history in this book, it was really interesting, however there was quite a lot to take in. This novel had many deep, meaningful quotes within. One particular quote that grabbed my attention was ‘Things that seem big and insurmountable don’t always matter as much as we think they do.’ I think this is a really powerful quote that added to the overall storyline. I was shocked at the twists near the end of the book - I didn’t expect them, and thoroughly enjoyed being surprised. I loved the relationships between the characters, and the relationship between Kim and Savannah is one I’m sure many of us can relate to. This was different to anything I’d ever read, and it was nice to have a change of scenery; the chapters were easy to get through, and this story had me gripped from the start, I flew through the pages and immensely enjoyed every new revelation uncovered! The style of writing was new and it did take a bit to get used to, but once I was hooked (which was early on!), it was loads of fun to read! One of my favourite parts of the story were the scenes with Harrison and Savannah - it felt so normal and I really enjoyed reading them! I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking for passion, fantasy, magic and a hint of romance, all rolled into one!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    'Theres a story thats been handed down the generations in my family. The story of a curse. The story of a woman so wronged that she burned with anger until it destroyed everything.' It took me a loooooong time to put my thoughts down about this book because I really wanted to do it justice! Firstly, I must talk about how this book discusses so many important topics. Slavery, misogyny, rape, racism, poverty, to name some. The author discusses her influences for the story at the beginning and what 'Theres a story thats been handed down the generations in my family. The story of a curse. The story of a woman so wronged that she burned with anger until it destroyed everything.' It took me a loooooong time to put my thoughts down about this book because I really wanted to do it justice! Firstly, I must talk about how this book discusses so many important topics. Slavery, misogyny, rape, racism, poverty, to name some. The author discusses her influences for the story at the beginning and what she wanted to convey which I felt was a really great touch and insight. These important topics really added value to the story and a thought prevoking aspect that fantasy doesn't always possess. I have so much admiration for Savannah who is bold, shameless and unapologetically herself. Its so refreshing to have a female character who is allowed to be angry and emotional. I was always her no.1 cheerleader throughout this book 📣 She refuses to let her spirit be crushed or to let men hound her into changing. We see her brazen moments but also her vulnerable ones which creates such a 3D character. The community of aunties surrounding Savannah was an aspect I loved, I loved seeing Savannah have such a comforting support network of women. All the aunties have their own personalities which are so endearing, my favourite being Aunt Dotty who ICONICALLY says "...for heavens sake, wear a damn bikini. Nothing wrong with showing a bit of tit" 😂 My favourite thing plot-wise about this book is how Savannah combats the curse. Rather than using violence as often portrayed in fantasy, the solution is through unlocking her heritage and undertaking a journey of discovery - it felt so fresh! The ending of this book isn't necessarily surprising and it did feel a bit rushed but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and it still conveyed an intensity that makes the reader devour it. Thanks to @netgalley and the author for this amazing ARC 💜

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an EARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. "'Don't poke the bear.' What if the bear pokes you first?" Blood to Poison is a tale of generational trauma, female anger and the power of finding your people, set against the background of South Africa's Cape Town, it takes myth and magic and blends it effortlessly with an urban setting in a way that makes it truly believable. Part mystery and part magica., coming for age, it re Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an EARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. "'Don't poke the bear.' What if the bear pokes you first?" Blood to Poison is a tale of generational trauma, female anger and the power of finding your people, set against the background of South Africa's Cape Town, it takes myth and magic and blends it effortlessly with an urban setting in a way that makes it truly believable. Part mystery and part magica., coming for age, it really was a joy to read and I am surprised by how little buzz I have heard about it. It truly is a standout of my reading year so far. You wouldn't think an urban fantasy could conjure up an atmosphere so vivid and vibrant, but the author does such a great job at featuring settings that are so sensual and brilliant that you cannot help but be drawn in. The characters have so much anger and faults that are so deeply human and believable and their relationships are strained at times which really just adds to the believability. I loved the family element of this book and it truly did feel like a little community. There are definitely some harder to read scenes and themes in this book so check content warnings, I do think things were handled with care and only included where it made senses to the plot and weren't used for shock factor. The mystery did still keep my on my toes and paired with the writing and pacing, I sped through this one. Definitely check this book out, I will be looking at this authors previous books too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bryony Indecisive Reader

    “There’s a story that’s been handed down the generations in my family. The story of a woman so wronged that she burned with anger until it destroyed everything. The story of Hella, my ancestor, whose anger is passed down from mother to daughter.” First 5 star rating of the year! I have loved Mary Watson’s writing in her previous books. Her narrative style is easy to read, but she still manages to twist mythology and folklore with important topics. Previously Irish mythology, this time she explore “There’s a story that’s been handed down the generations in my family. The story of a woman so wronged that she burned with anger until it destroyed everything. The story of Hella, my ancestor, whose anger is passed down from mother to daughter.” First 5 star rating of the year! I have loved Mary Watson’s writing in her previous books. Her narrative style is easy to read, but she still manages to twist mythology and folklore with important topics. Previously Irish mythology, this time she explores her South African heritage whilst dealing with topics such as racism and misogyny. I thought Savannah was a formidable main character. I loved her anger and how she was allowed to celebrate it. It’s rooted in her culture and her history - an anger that’s generations old. Yet anger doesn’t define her, she loves fiercely too and she’s kind. Had it not been for work, I would not have put this book down. I just found it so easy to read and I loved the story line. The characters and relationships were so genuine. There were some twists at the end I really didn’t expect. Savannah explores her anger through a culture she finds difficult to track. I also really enjoyed the witches and magic that was tied into the curse, plus all the general beliefs and stories of South Africa that were a part of Savannah’s world. It was really interesting to begin the story with a foreword from Mary Watson, explaining her own experiences and inspiration for this novel. I started tabbing this book from the first page.

  21. 4 out of 5

    thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)

    I was drawn in by this book and it would not let me go, it’s so clever and layered, the way Watson has dealt with the concept of anger is just fantastic, so utterly clever I have no words. I loved reading the justifiable anger, how Watson included and wove in so many that should make us angry , from everyday sexism and racism to the full horrors of apartheid and slavery. This is definitely a book that should be in schools, libraries and anywhere people want to learn. An amazing debut and I look I was drawn in by this book and it would not let me go, it’s so clever and layered, the way Watson has dealt with the concept of anger is just fantastic, so utterly clever I have no words. I loved reading the justifiable anger, how Watson included and wove in so many that should make us angry , from everyday sexism and racism to the full horrors of apartheid and slavery. This is definitely a book that should be in schools, libraries and anywhere people want to learn. An amazing debut and I look forward for so much more from Mary Watson Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    TL;DR: Real-world anger and supernatural curses unite, but some of that thematic depth is lost across the adventure (eARC provided by Netgalley) I really like the core elements of Blood to Poison, and the idea of embracing and exploring anger. Savannah is a fresh perspective as a young person who is allowed to be genuinely and uncontrollably angry, and I think connecting that to her family's past, and that of South Africa, was a good choice. Unfortunately, I just never really connected with the bo TL;DR: Real-world anger and supernatural curses unite, but some of that thematic depth is lost across the adventure (eARC provided by Netgalley) I really like the core elements of Blood to Poison, and the idea of embracing and exploring anger. Savannah is a fresh perspective as a young person who is allowed to be genuinely and uncontrollably angry, and I think connecting that to her family's past, and that of South Africa, was a good choice. Unfortunately, I just never really connected with the book, and I wonder if it's a question of balance. Rather than diving into Hella's story and intergenerational trauma more broadly, I feel the story got a little bogged down in details of the worldbuilding and unnecessary twists. I think I was ready for a more reflective read than I got. That's not to say this is a bad book, and I think it absolutely hits the brief for interesting real-world YA fantasy, but I wanted more from this genius premise. Rating breakdown: 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 5/10 in personal rating system

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Dnf @ p72 • could not get into this • the premise was intriguing, the execution less so for me personally • I loved the vibrance of the atmosphere but honestly I didn’t like Savannah and I didn’t care for any other secondary characters either TWs (up to p72): heckling a minor, ref to femicide

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Blood to Poison 3.5/5 stars This was my first book by Mary Watson, and it was definitely a good first introduction. The setting of the story was very unique with the incorporation of African history in there. It was brilliant to read a book with this slant, as there definitely aren’t enough books out there like this. The story follows 17 year old Savannah who is cursed to die young, this curse has followed her family for generations and manifests itself through anger. Throughout the story Savannah Blood to Poison 3.5/5 stars This was my first book by Mary Watson, and it was definitely a good first introduction. The setting of the story was very unique with the incorporation of African history in there. It was brilliant to read a book with this slant, as there definitely aren’t enough books out there like this. The story follows 17 year old Savannah who is cursed to die young, this curse has followed her family for generations and manifests itself through anger. Throughout the story Savannah tries to find a way to break this curse, leading to her learning a lot about her family history and the magic that surrounds her. I love any book about magic, and even more when it’s hidden in plain sight, so I was so excited to get approved to read this book! The way Mary immersed us into Savannah’s world was truly magical, and the plot was fast paced enough to keep me interested. While the plot itself was not super unique, the setting was what kept me reading so I would recommend for that! Savannah’s experiences I definitely related to several of them, so I was cheering at several moments where she got some payback. However, there were some problems with the book for me. I was not a fan of the romance, I did feel like it was put on and a bit out of place. I’m not quite sure what it added and would have been happy without that in there! The idea of the curse was great as well, but the way it was written came across to me more as just petty anger, almost tantrum like, I was picturing more anger and retribution? Overall, I would recommend this book to my YA lovers out there, and this is a great introduction to fantasy books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniella

    dnf @ p.90 This book was not bad by any means, but it just was a lot more contemporary than I was expecting which isn't a genre I particularly enjoy so I found it hard to get into this. Like A Song Below Water, which I started and also put down, this seemed like covers some really important topics that I'm glad to see published - how the legacy of apartheid still impacts life in South Africa today, men feeling entitled to women and their space/bodies, women being taught to cage their emotions - b dnf @ p.90 This book was not bad by any means, but it just was a lot more contemporary than I was expecting which isn't a genre I particularly enjoy so I found it hard to get into this. Like A Song Below Water, which I started and also put down, this seemed like covers some really important topics that I'm glad to see published - how the legacy of apartheid still impacts life in South Africa today, men feeling entitled to women and their space/bodies, women being taught to cage their emotions - but I just wasn't gelling with the more contemporary elements. I also think because I just read The Cold Is in Her Bones which had a similar central concept and I didn't love that book, it made me less inclined to continue. I really hope this finds its audience though and I'm glad to see more diverse stories being published. I don't think I've ever read a book set in South Africa, and it was cool to see that culture/society being featured on page.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Narah Quinn

    Blood To Posion is a YA, contemporary fantasy, coming-of-age tale full of family curses, witches, and justifiably angry girls. Rooted in South African history, and blending magic into the daily backdrop of Cape Town, expertly - and sensitively - exploring generational trauma and the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism, you are about to see the world around you in a new light. Seventeen year old Savannah is one of ‘Hella’s girls’, so named for her enslaved ancestor with whom it all began, she is Blood To Posion is a YA, contemporary fantasy, coming-of-age tale full of family curses, witches, and justifiably angry girls. Rooted in South African history, and blending magic into the daily backdrop of Cape Town, expertly - and sensitively - exploring generational trauma and the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism, you are about to see the world around you in a new light. Seventeen year old Savannah is one of ‘Hella’s girls’, so named for her enslaved ancestor with whom it all began, she is the most recent descendant destined to die young at the hands of a blood curse. Savannah, though, unlike her relatives, doesn't plan to die like the women before her and plans to break the curse, and so begins her journey into a world of hidden magic, family secrets, and warring witch factions. I really loved Savannahs character. She was emotional, vulnerable at times, navigating a rage that felt bigger than herself, and a multitude of familial relationships with her mum, aunts, uncles, and long lost friends. Her own magic is wound together with her rage, and her relationship with this anger is beautifully developed as the story progresses, strengthening her, and developing her character into a truly formidable young woman who knows not only herself, but her place in a world thats stacked against her. The slow burn friends to lovers was perfect, the fast pace, high stakes, twisty plot keeps you entirely invested from start to finish and throws in an enticing edge of darkess for a little added extra something. This is a solid 4.5 star read, and as a last note, I personally think that you should be sure to read the author's note first.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trigger Warning Database

    Trigger & Content Warnings Racism Slavery mentioned Sexual harassment

  28. 4 out of 5

    MaryBrigid Turner

    A powerful story of magic, love, betrayal and growth. Beautifully written, yet full of laughter and mystery and twists and turns. I couldn't stop reading, yet at the same time I didn't want the story to end. A powerful story of magic, love, betrayal and growth. Beautifully written, yet full of laughter and mystery and twists and turns. I couldn't stop reading, yet at the same time I didn't want the story to end.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This book is an incredible combination of magic, South African heritage, and female power. Savannah's story is gripping and well-crafted, and it is clear from both the author's note and the writing that this is a story than means a great deal to Watson. It has been a long time since I've read anything with such vibrant colours and textures, and the stunning world Watson creates is one you can't help but dive into. The South African English peppered throughout the text is genius, and I loved the This book is an incredible combination of magic, South African heritage, and female power. Savannah's story is gripping and well-crafted, and it is clear from both the author's note and the writing that this is a story than means a great deal to Watson. It has been a long time since I've read anything with such vibrant colours and textures, and the stunning world Watson creates is one you can't help but dive into. The South African English peppered throughout the text is genius, and I loved the authentic feel it gave to the characters and their stories. Reading about Savannah's day-to-day challenges as a female teenager in South Africa was eye-opening, and though her experiences are unique to her, there is a lot here for readers to relate to. The narrative pacing was excellent and I flew through the final few chapters, thinking I knew exactly what was going to happen, just to be completely caught off guard. There are a few twists in this novel, all of which I did not see coming, and each one just as good as the last. My favourite thing about this book is the emphasis Watson has put on female characters, showing them in both weak moments and strong moments, and exploring the relationship between the two. For anyone looking for the next YA female powerhouse, this is the book for you.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Pop

    Every day Mary Warson solidifies herself as an auto-buy author for me and I cannot even imagine the day where I won't be excited to see what she has in store. As you might predict by that very dramatic intro, this book consumed me heart and soul. There is a special place in my heart for Angry Girl Fiction™ and this was a very solid example of that. I adore the way Watson's writing feels so tangible and lifelike, yet it meanders and flourishes and adds a lyricism and depth to the story. I thought Every day Mary Warson solidifies herself as an auto-buy author for me and I cannot even imagine the day where I won't be excited to see what she has in store. As you might predict by that very dramatic intro, this book consumed me heart and soul. There is a special place in my heart for Angry Girl Fiction™ and this was a very solid example of that. I adore the way Watson's writing feels so tangible and lifelike, yet it meanders and flourishes and adds a lyricism and depth to the story. I thought this novel did a fantastic job in balancing (and paralleling) the paranormal element with the draining realities of the world around us. Savannah is hands down one of my favourite protagonists of the year. A MUST READ, MUST PURCHASE, MUST SCREAM TO THE SKIES ABOUT HOW GOOD THIS IS!!

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