by Natalie Mae
Publication: June 16, 2020
Series: The Kinder Poison #1
Rather than decide on an heir, the king chooses to invoke the Crossing, a race between his children that will take them across the desert and ultimately end with a human sacrifice. The first one to finish and kill the sacrifice will be named heir. Zahru’s desire to join in the festivities, unfortunately, ends up placing her in the middle of a sibling rivalry where she ends up becoming the chosen sacrifice. Now, she needs to figure out how to get out of it.
There’s just enough world-building to get a sense of the environment, including the politics and the social system but not extremely detailed. Magical ability is tied to one’s value, with those lacking ability seen as worthless and given limited resources. Interestingly, magic comes with a price such as a shorter life span for some and, after a time, some magical abilities will also completely disappear. Because magic has consequences, it’s (only somewhat) surprising that people would not also defend those born without magic to ensure they are treated as citizens of the kingdom as well. As you can see, I wasn’t a fan of how those without magical abilities are treated.
While the beginning was interesting, the race itself wasn’t all that exciting. I was invested in the book mostly because I wanted to know if Zahru would be able to escape her fate; however, along the way, I started to get increasingly frustrated with her. I liked her optimism–some may see this as her being naive but I would disagree–and her ability to try to see the best in people. She’s prone to speaking her mind but is also a genuinely nice individual. She is a capable individual but society only values individuals with strong magical abilities. As a whisperer, someone who can speak to animals, society deems her to be nearly useless, just above those without magical abilities. In viewing her worth through society’s lens, she doesn’t see herself as someone with much to offer. This lack of self-confidence carries through the majority of the book and irritated me greatly. She kept waiting to be saved while I kept waiting for her to save herself. Can you imagine being able to speak with animals? There is so much they can tell you especially if you need to escape!
While I liked The Kinder Poison, it wasn’t as thrilling as I hoped it would be. The ending makes up for a lot of the book and it does end on a cliffhanger. Good thing The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison #2) will be out June 2021. I will definitely be picking that up because I need to know what happens next.