The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (Book Review)

The Poison TreeThe Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Every young person should have one summer they look back on for the rest of their lives.”

I never had mine, but given Karen’s “one summer,” that may be a good thing.

Bookshelves: brit-lit, chick-lit, mystery, plot-twists-and-irony, psych-thriller, thriller

I feel the same way about this book as I felt about The Burning Air – a climax that turns out to be worth it after rather slow building.

A couple of the situations were not terribly realistic, such as a heavily pregnant woman “feeling strong enough” to take a walk, or dropping a car’s chassis by six inches just by getting into it, or whose belly caused her to be “wedged solidly between the seat and the dashboard.” You might feel that fat, but a twiggy 21-year-old would have to gain like 300 pounds for that to be real. Same with passing out after two hits of hashish, unless the stuff my high-school boyfriend used to score was crap and I don’t know what I’m talking about here.

In The Burning Air I had to anchor the villain inside a thin-skinned, vengeance-bent person I used to know IRL in order to make the motive relatable. I had the same issue with this book. As square, studious little Karen was written, it was hard to fathom that she would overthrow her own accomplished and carefully-lived life to be subsumed into the world of a couple of quasi-bohos living on the dole in a filthy and rundown mansion. It wasn’t until Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Marla Singer from Fight Club popped into my head that I was able to see Biba’s supposed allure.

That I’ve had this problem with two of this writer’s books makes me think that the characterization skills are not all they could be. Still, Kelly is deft with foreshadowing and red herrings and plot twists, and the climax was divine. This is decent escapism stuff. Just picture Marla.


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Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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