Wooding, Chris. Poison. Sept. 2005. 288p. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (0-439-75570-0).
Gr. 6-9. Although Wooding's second stand-alone youth fantasy has its share of violent deaths and other terrifying episodes, the title refers not to a deadly toxin but to its eponymous violet-eyed heroine. Quick-witted, fierce, and fed up with living in a community where residents view misfortune as inevitable, Poison fights back when her baby sister is spirited away by "phaeries." She faces obstacles both physical and mental. In one pivotal scene, she meets her own creator, an all-powerful storyteller whose revelations prompt ruminations about self-determination and the nature of reality. Some readers won't appreciate the shift from familiar quest-story action to quiet, more metaphysical upheavals, and Poison doesn't emerge triumphant in the way that many will expect. Still, Wooding's serpentine plotting and lush, imaginative writing have something to offer to both the more mature audience of The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (a 2004 Booklist Top Ten Fantasy for Youth) as well as slightly younger genre fans. Try this particularly on readers who enjoyed Angie Sage's Magyk (2005). -Jennifer Mattson
Chris Wooding Poison
273 pp. Orchard/Scholastic 9/05 ISBN 0-439-75570-0 $16.99 g
(Middle School, High School)
Wooding's first novel, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (rev. 11/04), was electrifying and deeply atmospheric; his second is even more so. When the self-named Poison's little sister is stolen by a ghoulish monster called the Scarecrow, she sets out to confront the Phaerie Lord to demand her sister's return. On her way she encounters the dangerous rotting man, Lamprey; the terrifying and cannibalistic Bone Witch, who guards the entrance to the fairy realm; and other antagonists including the malevolent part-spider, part-woman Lady Asinastra and the devious Scriddle. Such charismatic and well-imagined foes might have upstaged a lesser hero, bshow more