Read + Review: A Poison Dark and Drowing by Jessica Cluess

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This book continues the plot from the first book in the series (because yes, it’s a sequel). A series of monsters, Ancients, are threatening the queen, led by the Skinless Man. Henrietta Howel, the only female sorcerer, seeks to defeat the Ancients with her companions-backslash-love-interests, including Rook, Blackwood and Magnus. Eventually, she comes at odds with the dark faerie, which divides her and her fellows between two evils.

I found this book poorly written, syntax-wise and plot-wise. The dialogue in general felt forced, the character descriptions overdone (dark and brooding love interests, wizened and wise leaders, etc.), and most of the plot was stale. Most of the big reveals were guessable, and several lines in the novel were clichés that can be fund in most every modern young-adult fantasy literature. If you’ve heard the writing tips about reading, you know that it’s intended to broaden the writing style and inspiration of aspiring authors; Cluess seems to have confined her reading to only the genre in which she wanted to write, leaving her a stunted understanding of technique and examples of plot.

The most memorable aspect of the book is Maria, a new character who’s introduced in this book. While Henrietta misses the “empowered female heroine” mark, Maria most certainly fulfills it.


Reviewed by Addie, Grade 11, Libbie Mill Library

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