Master of Poisons | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Master of Poisons

Author: Andrea Hairston

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 464

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Tor.com

Categories: Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will leave you aching for the world it burns into being.

Thank you to Tor.com and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: waned

World Building: African epic fantasy – the most amazing thing about this story is the world building of the Arkhysian Empire. The reader travels across so many terrains and come across different kinds of people and tribes.

Writing Style: beautifully written

Bringing the Heat: no

Crazy in Love: there is love but it isn’t crazy 

Creativity: imaginative world building of magic, griots and politics

Mood: inspired

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: African inspired fantasies are so rich in culture and magic!

  • The world building in this epic story takes center stage. It is an African inspired fantasy, and filled with lush scenery and characters. There is political intrigue, danger, music, adventure, gods, spirits and so much magic.
  • One thing I love about fantasy stories is that diversity is usually a given. This book is no exception.
  • The story follows two main characters Djola who is the Master of Poisons, and Awa a young griot. I think both of them were interesting but I was drawn towards Awa more, maybe because she was the female character and griots are something I’ve been reading more about lately in other African inspired fantasies. Djola is an Elder and is knowledgable and knows the political landscape of the Arkhysian Empire. He has magic as well. The story moves faster when Awa and Djola finally meet. I like their interactions because they both learn from one another.
  • The writing is so visual, like when Awa’s bees surround her. I can see this book translated into a fantasy series on screen. I can only imagine how amazing the scenes would look. This story is beautiful in the way some sentences flow and sound like proverbs. There are deep meanings and messages in this story.
  • The story is written beautifully but it lost my attention in the middle because it moved too slow and I was learning about the different people, their magic, and the language. Djola is tasked to basically the cure to the land and Awa is a young griot new to her growing powers. I wanted it to move faster in the beginning but I understand the scope of the storytelling especially with the world building.
  • While the world building is fantastic, I wish I had connected to the characters more. Awa was my favorite, and her character was vibrant but emotionally, I felt like I didn’t connect to anyone in the story.

This landscape of African inspired fantasy is a wonderful eye-opening reading experience for me. I’m usually a reader of young adult fantasy, but this adult fantasy, Master of Poisons, is epic. Maybe because I’m so used to young adult fiction the slow building of this story challenged my attention span. The world-building for me is the stand out in this book, it is so seamless and imaginative. Lovers of fantasy will definitely enjoy this one.

💕 ~ Yolanda

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