Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
First off, I want to say that while this book is recommended for grades 8-12, I think it’s more suited toward grades 5-8. I think a lot of older YA readers will find the story a little childish, which doesn’t mean it’s unworthy, just that it reads a little young. Kyra is on the run for trying to poison the Princess Ariana, Kyra’s best friend. After this happens, Kyra is forced to break her engagement to Hal, a fellow potioner. Along the way she picks up Rosie, a “pig the size of a house cat” who helps track down Ariana, who has disappeared. Kyra also meets Fred, a traveler. Kyra is a little annoying in the beginning, mostly because it felt like Zinn tried too hard to make her a plucky, clever heroine, and Kyra doesn’t like animals. What? I am wary of all people who don’t like animals. Indifference is fine, but active dislike is strange (says the cat lady).
So this was a fun little romp, but I had a few issues with it. First, the dialogue was very modern, and it sort of took me out of the story when Kyra used words like “offed” or “cupcake” or “guys.” Second, Kyra was kind of on the dumb side of stubborn. She has a vision, and believes she is the only one who can save the kingdom, but she won’t develop her powers? That made no sense to me. I understand that witches were persecuted in Mohr, but that is a really ridiculous thing for Kyra to do. She fights her visions, then gets one that really scares her and decides she’s the savior of the land? Come on. I couldn’t buy that. Lastly, we are told Kyra is brilliant with potions, but we don’t ever see that. We are shown her using potions already made, but we don’t really ever really see her doing anything genius. Kyra never really grew on me, unfortunately. This happens a lot when we’re stuck in the head of the protagonist, and why I personally enjoy multiple points of view. The best part of the novel, in my opinion, was Rosie, the pig.
I wanted to like this novel, but I really just didn’t. It’s less about poisons than about Kyra learning how to embrace things she doesn’t like about herself. A lot of the dialogue seemed immature, as though everyone talking was ten years old. The mystery wasn’t hard to solve, in my opinion, and I never get the villain right in books. I think I laughed maybe once. It just didn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!
Bridget Zinn died before she could see her book published. It was cancer, and she was way too young. If you liked this novel and read it as an ARC, please buy it to support Bridget and the husband she left behind.