Rapid Reviews

The Poisoned Garden by Phill Featherstone

Though this book is marketed as YA fantasy, this is not the sort of YA fantasy I have read before. It’s dark and vicious and romance is not at its centre (yes, this proves the sort of fantasy I normally read).

This book, based in a mythical city, had a very historical feel to it, with the feudal houses in charge of everything, the beggars and working class in a position where they require help but are treated not as second-class citizens, but completely undesirable.

Peglar, being the younger of the sons of an ailing Master of the City has struggled to fit in all his life and he seems determined to prove himself worthy not only of his father’s affections but also his brother’s respect. His brother, Ragul is a wholly unlikeable character that, throughout, you could see was less intelligent but used his bulk and his popularity as the older son to prove himself.

Peglar himself isn’t perfect, he makes a lot of mistakes, with his half-sister, with his father, and with the peasant girl Yalka, who he encounters on one of his walks through the city.

It is Yalka who points out to him that there are some very questionable and evil things happening in the city, with young children who have been forced into a life of crime by the fact that they have been abandoned by the people who are meant to care for them (not only their parents), turning up dead, their fingers taken as trophies, their bodies left to rot in the streets.

Peglar wants to make a difference, so when his coming-of-age trial is pushed upon him (something he must do in order to become an heir to his father’s role – one he will share with his jealous and resentful half-brother), he prepares, not realising by doing so he is making himself a target for the plot that is already in play, one that will leave people dead and him in a precarious position.

The Poisoned Garden is appropriately named and the ending, as dark as many of the events through the book, leads cleanly into a sequel.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this book up and though it’s not really my sort of fantasy fiction, it was well-written and I would like to find out what happens to Peglar (that is a very unfortunate name) and Yalka and I do hope that Ragul gets his comeuppance. 

4-star rating
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