After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included.
But when Mira meets royal bastard Josse de Bourbon after the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, both must step up to the challenge and form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society.
🌸 14+, maybe? There’s a decent amount of death and murder and gore (and a little bit of suggestive content–very unexplicit fade to black) but no cursing. The murder count is pretty high, and some of the poisons act in somewhat gruesome ways, so sensitive readers beware!
Trigger Warning: Self-harm at the start of Chapter 24 (pg. 330ish). It’s most noticeable in 2 lines, but happens for approximately 2 pages.
This is a book that got better as I read further and further into it. Although I liked the concept of An Affair of Poisons, I was definitely a little wary as I read, not entirely sure if I was into it and the story and the characters.
But as it progressed, I warmed up to the book and what was happening, especially at the end.
I guess what stood out the most to me was the romance, actually! I thought Josse and Mira were cute and their characters actually complemented each other really really well.
They worked in the way that I felt like Josse helped Mira face her fears and flaws etc., and Mira did the same for Josse, making them actually one of the only decent YA pairs, in my opinion?
Like, they just worked really well in my opinion, and I applaud Addie Thorley for giving me a ship that I can actually stand by.
I did think that the history was also really well-developed, and I liked reading Thorley’s author note and seeing how it all came together. Plus, France! Revolution! All sorts of fun things. The time period is definitely a very interesting one, and although I can’t say whether or not Thorley did a good job in accuracy, I will say that it was nice in the way that it worked within the story.
I guess, part of my problem with this book was just kind of how I felt like it took a while to get to where it needed to be. Like, it dawdled a bit and I feel like the beginning half could have been condensed. Even though everything seemed like it had a purpose, it also wasn’t really grabbing me from the start, and I wanted more.
Also, there were a few scenes where I wasn’t completely clued in with the characters’ emotions, in my opinion, so I just was kind of ??? at why they were doing something–but overall it was pretty well cemented to the characters.
Also–I wanted more of Mira’s relationship with her adopted brother (which was definitely another highlight of this book). I think the dynamic had a lot in it and still some left to explore, and I also really enjoyed how it contrasted against Mira and her biological sister’s relationship which was filled with a lot more animosity.
I don’t really know how to pinpoint where this book went wrong other than the slower pacing at the beginning and the fact that I just didn’t entirely click with this book at the start. I enjoyed the ending, but for a decent amount of time I wavered between like and dislike. And I could have easily DNF’d it during the beginning if it wasn’t an ARC (but I didn’t, and it ended up being worth it in the end, hence 3.5 a positive rating!)
Overall, I enjoyed reading and I think that people who like the concept will enjoy this! This isn’t one of my forever-books, but I did really like what Thorley did with this, and think it’s a nice contribution to the French-inspired YA segment about the actual historical Affair of Poisons.
Thank you so much to Page Street for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!