20 June 2020

Review || Poison and Honey by Kristen Brand

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Leigh Morgan has known that magic existed ever since an unearthly monster abducted her sister. It’s why she’s in Otherworld now, posing as a servant in its dark, decadent palace. She’s gathering intelligence and working with a small band of allies to bring down the Others and free their human captives. Her mission depends on blending in, so the last thing she wants is to attract the attention of a cunning prince.


Dredarion Rath wants one thing: to disgrace his older brother and prove himself the worthier heir to the throne. And out of all the servants in the palace, he chooses Leigh to help him. Just her luck.

Now Leigh has to keep her work a secret from a bewitching man who sees right through her--and who's not nearly as cold and inhuman as he seems. She can't screw this up, or the humans forced into servitude will never go home. But juggling two conspiracies at once, it's only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down, and the man she's falling for has her executed for her betrayal... 



 


Poison and Honey is an urban fantasy novella, but the world-building reads every bit as good as a full-length novel. While it is set in what simply known as "Otherworld", there is nothing simple about the world Kristen Brand creates here. Leigh was abducted from Earth through a gate portal into Otherworld, where she now serves as a servant in the palace. Considered a "mud person", Leigh is looked down upon by the others as disgusting and lazy.  The palace is vast with shadowed alcoves and back hallways. The royals are narcissistic, harsh, and beautiful but not all the creatures here are perfection personified. Goblins, horse-headed men, scaly sea creatures, and others fill out the cast. There's a very Unseelie vibe given to this dark and dangerous world. Everyone is plotting and scheming and playing their own hand very close to their chest.  

Leigh is the perfect protagonist. She's smart and strong, but she keeps her strengths hidden as well as her agenda. She's able to survive in this new world by doing what she's told, but inside she's a seething mass of vigilante resentment and rage. When she's pulled into the prince's service, she's conflicted by this man that she should loathe. Dredarion isn't all he appears. His machinations against his brother lead you to believe that he is just like the others, but there's someone underneath who might be, dare I say, human? There are definite fireworks between the two, but thankfully, no instalove. I'm such a sucker for conflicted romances in UF and these two are like moths to the flame if that flame is all actuality a bug zapper.

I can't tell you how much I adore when my preconceived notions of a book get completely demolished. That's a weird thing to admit, isn't it? It's true though. Poison and Honey walked up behind me and whacked me upside the head with everything it had in it. The characters are fantastic, the world-building is sublime, there's no end to the action, and there's that smoking little ember of heat thrown in for good measure. Oh! There's even this scene with a decaying zombie-ish skull-bear that did my horror-loving heart good! So. Good