Seventeen-year-old Savannah is angry, its an anger that has travelled through her family as a curse – a curse she is determined to lift. But blood curses are nearly impossible to break, and in her quest to discover the answers, Savannah finds herself in the middle of a war between rival factions of witches. Blood to Poison is Mary Watson’s third magical young adult novel (YA) with Bloomsbury, and it’s just as immersive and wonderful, with just a lick of darkness to set it apart.
While Watson’s previous two magical novels The Wren Hunt and The Wickerlight were set in dreamy Ireland, Blood to Poison is set on more familiar terrain – Cape Town, South Africa, where the author was born and raised. Watson has transformed familiar locations like Green Market Square, the old Rhodes zoo, and Wynberg Park with a veneer of magical realism. Even Savannah’s anger, which fuels her magical ability, is firmly rooted in South Africa. It an anger borne from racial injustice and the violence against women that is so prevalent here. Magic permeates every aspect of Savannah’s world, including her large family of cousins and aunties who discuss the family curse like most people discuss the weather.
The fast pace and high stakes propel the reader deeper into this dangerous magical underworld as we follow Savannah’s journey to discover her true power.
Watson’s skill with storytelling is incredible (in fact, I consider her one of the best out there) and Blood to Poison is a compulsive read. It has everything a bestselling YA novel needs: secret societies, deliciously evil villains, love, and enough twists to keep you gasping from beginning to end.
Blood to Poison releases locally in April.