A very gritty, dark YA fantasy... The Poisons We Drink by Bethany Baptiste (Review) #newbooks #booktwitter #bookx #yalit #yabooks

The Poisons We Drink
By Bethany Baptiste
YA Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBTQ+
Hardcover Audiobook & eBook, 480 Pages
April 30, 2024 by Sourcebooks Fire 


In a country divided between humans and witchers, Venus Stoneheart hustles as a brewer making illegal love potions to support her family.

Love potions is a dangerous business. Brewing has painful, debilitating side effects, and getting caught means death or a prison sentence. But what Venus is most afraid of is the dark, sentient magic within her.

Then an enemy's iron bullet kills her mother, Venus's life implodes. Keeping her reckless little sister Janus safe is now her responsibility. When the powerful Grand Witcher, the ruthless head of her coven, offers Venus the chance to punish her mother's killer, she has to pay a steep price for revenge. The cost? Brew poisonous potions to enslave D.C.'s most influential politicians.

As Venus crawls deeper into the corrupt underbelly of her city, the line between magic and power blurs, and it's hard to tell who to trust…

Herself included.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

THE POISONS WE DRINK is a book about a group of characters trying to survive as a people who are discriminated against and find the truth of their past as they decide on their future. It's about friendship, family, loss, lies, greed, violence, hate, magic, manipulation, romance and sacrifice. It's a very gritty and dark story with some strong, violent themes.

I loved the book cover! I was completely on board with this author's premise and letter at the start of the book as I felt very similar. I liked the writing style. I liked the characters overall. Venus, Janus, Tyrell, Presley, Uncle Bram and Patches. Although, that is with the concession that I thought they were frustrating and I wanted to strangle them all. Lol! Except Patches. I just wanted to hug that one and have humorous chats (not that the cat could talk except with meaningful looks and actions). I liked the representation of a nonbinary character. For some that may be an issue. It was confusing sometimes with the English language being as it is, but I thought the author did a stellar job trying to make it clear when they were speaking or involved in a scene. I also thought the representation of how those who are discriminated against and the target of hate violence was accurate in all its terribleness as was the example of groups of people sabotaging each other for power and greed. I thought the storybook world was super creative and intriguing. I also enjoyed most of the last chapter as it gave a positive outlook on the future although that was a bit ruined by characters continuing to manipulate and control other people.

What didn't I like? This story was like a teenager's terrible shipwreck on high octane. There was so much drama. Characters (both adults, teenagers, and authorities) making decisions of hurt and violence without thought. A constant, intense whiplash of emotions. Resentment, anger, heartbreak. Family and friends not caring how they hurt each other. Hurt piled on top of hurt. So many terrible choices made by these characters. They wouldn't communicate anything honestly, which would have solved most all of the issues. No one wanted to ask for help. So many secrets, so much loss and violence, and almost all of it could have been avoided. There was the suspension of belief I had to use as one girl was the only one who could brew the needed potions out of thousands of witchers to save their people. Then there was the sadness and wrongness of messages that were promoted, like this one:

"Love was an awful, messy thing that made you do awful, messy things to prove you wanted it."

There were many views/messages/themes presented that were jaded and I disagreed with. And that's okay, but it's also pretty in your face without question. Such as never addressing that it's morally wrong to have teenagers brew potions that cause pretty harrowing damage to themselves, many times unsupervised with their guardians making them do it for money, and with the possibility that brewing could kill them. Also, it was never questioned that it just might be wrong to brew love potions that control other people. Or it being wrong to tie a man to a stake, give him a love potion that makes him fall in love with the idea of himself dying, and then burn him alive at the stake while he's crazily laughing since he's in love with himself burning to death and have a bunch of people watch as entertainment. It wasn't a story my heart wanted to wade through for hours. And it didn't leave me feeling better. More like inciting more anger and frustration. It's a miserable way to view life, and rather hopeless and heartbreaking.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This wasn't the right fit for me. It's a story that pours out grief and anger for all the discrimination and violence in the world with more hurt, violence and characters who make terrible choices in the name of love and change. Readers who are looking for this type of read, may connect with this book.

Content: Lots of swearing (mostly f-words), violence, a love scene between two teens, death (both murder and self-defense), self-harm for magic, vicious greed and manipulation. There is a warning in the book summary provided by the publisher/author. It's accurate and should be noted.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Turn the Page Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

What are your thoughts on this book? Have you read this one, and if so, what did you like about this story?

No comments

Post a Comment

I love comments! I try to read and reply to them all. Feel free to agree or disagree and generally share your thoughts with me.