Monday, June 13, 2011

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black

Title: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Big Mouth House
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Date Read: June 2 - 4, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars 


Poisonous girls whose kisses will kill. A fateful eating contest with the devil. Faeries who return to Ironside, searching for love. A junior prom turned bacchanalia. In twelve short stories, eerie and brimming with suspense and unexpected humor, Holly Black twists the fantastical creatures you thought you knew in ways you’ll never expect.
Wow! I've never read a Holly Black novel before so I figured The Poison Eaters would be a great introduction to her writing style. I'm really excited to read her other novels now and see how she's progressed as an author over the years. Rather than reviewing each story individually I've chosen two favourites and three least favourites.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is my favourite short story of the collection, an amazing tale of a modern day vampire epidemic and how the world is coping. I was immediately drawn into the harsh almost post-apocalyptic world and Matilda's struggle to overcome her vampirism. I deeply wish that Holly Black had not included this in her collection, however, and had chosen to write it as a full-length novel. There was so much potential for character development, and in a literature world where vampires are the "hottest commodity" finding an original interpretation is hard to come by and therefore should be celebrated.

Paper Cuts is my second favourite story about a girl who puts herself into a novel and how her boyfriend copes with her departure. This is the perfect story for a book lover to read as many of us aspire to be a part of the novels and worlds we read about. I loved the simplicity of the story, how it was one of the sweetest and lightest tales in the collection, yet still portrayed the sadness of someone left behind. 

A Reversal of Fortune, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and The Land of Heart's Desire were my three least favourite stories. I didn't connect to any of the characters and the plots were either unoriginal or too simple. I understand that less popular stories needed to be included in the collection to provide a variety of reading levels/ages, cultural ethnicities, and worlds but these didn't seem to match the intensity of the other stories. Fortunately in a short story collection there is a story for everyone so hopefully another reader connected to and appreciated one of these.

As a whole I appreciated the effort Holly Black took to ensure that the stories weren't too similar or too different by choosing an overall theme to tie everything together: the dark side of fantasy. Too often in YA literature the fantasy world is portrayed as light or a "safe" darkness, but in The Poison Eaters the stories reflected the ugly side of love and fantasy realms. I also liked how there was a variety of characters and settings, from heterosexual werewolves to homosexual fairies, from children to adults, from paranormal to urban fantasy, from modern day to historical fiction. 

Quote: "Books were something that happened to readers. Readers were the victims of books."

Recommended: Tithe (Holly Black), The Rose and Beast (Francesca Lia Block), Gothic (Deborah Noyes)


  1. I've seen this at the library, but haven't picked it up yet. I really like Ms. Blacks Curse Workers series, so I can imagine this is great as well! Thanks for sharing your review, I'll have to check this out!

  2. I have The Poison Eaters, but I haven't read it yet. I think I'll have to find it on my shelves and give a go very soon. I love the idea of the girl going into a novel and cannot wait to read that one. Thanks for the review and getting me psyched to read some more of Holly Black's stuff!


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