“I lived in a tiny village, and I never left it. I dreamed of faraway places, and I scorned everybody for being stuck in that horrible swamp and never wanting to leave. But I was trapped, just like them, and for all that I talked about it, I might never have gone away if it weren’t for my sister being kidnapped. I might have stayed there, always meaning to go but always putting it off, and every year something would come alone that made it harder for me to leave until one day I would realize that I was old, and I couldn’t leave anymore.”
Poison by Chris Wooding tells the tale of a girl of the same name, trapped in a dreary swamp town with her father and unpleasant stepmother. One fateful night, her baby stepsister is stolen, and a hideous changeling left in her place. Poison decides to venture to the land of the fairy king to get her back, under the initial guidance of a wise old traveling man, and in the company of a gruff merchant who turns out to be very helpful.
After rescuing a girl from an evil witch, the girl and her cat also accompany Poison. The fairy king sets them an impossible task, which they actually accomplish, but he reneges on his deal and plans to kill them all anyway. They escape in his labyrinthine castle and manage to follow him to a place where the full extent of the story is exposed. The villain is revealed, but it is also Poison who is revealed – to be something more than she ever imagined.
[Poison is joined by “Poison” Ivy from The Poisons of Caux series re: Girls Underground with poisonous monikers. I wonder if there will be more.]