Grow Your Own Magic: This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron Review

Plant magic, poison, and Greek gods– what more could you want from a YA novel? In This Poison Heart, a teen discovers the truth about her heritage and the terrible responsibilities that go along with it.

Brisies has always had a way with plants. They bloom and grow in her presence, shifting toward her like the sun. It’s a gift, but hiding the truth about her abilities from everyone but her parents has always made her a bit of an outsider–even from her closest friends. It seems less like a gift and more of a burden.

But then she discovers that her birth mother’s sister left the family estate to Briseis in her will. Briseis didn’t even know her birth mother had a sister until the estate lawyer shows up at the door. But with rising rent prices in Brooklyn and a chance to get away for the summer, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

An old apothecary and poison garden lie in wait at the estate in rural New York, with secret notes and keys left just for Briseis. It turns out the strange affinity she’s always had for plants might be something of a birthright. In fact she might be part of a line of magical women dating all the way back to ancient Greece.

Amidst the house and the gardens, she begins to find a life for herself. For the first time, she discovers she doesn’t have to hide who she is just to be accepted. Her new friends accept her for who she is, and her crush may just be hiding some remarkable abilities of her own. But along with her gifts, come responsibilities and dangerous enemies willing to go to any lengths to get to the heart of what she’s protecting.

I love a fantasy book with unusual magic, and between the plant magic and poison immunity, This Poison Heart abounds with that. In the future, just go ahead and sign me up for all the plant magic.

Mythology is really expertly weaved into the story, creating the basis and backbone for the powers Briseis and her family possess. I’ve read several other YA novels exploring the Greek pantheon, but none quite like this.

Maybe my favorite aspect of the novel, though, was the depiction of Bri’s parents, who are dorky and sweet and protective and just so perfectly crafted. I love that her moms aren’t left out of the hijinks and are in on all (or most) of the magical discoveries going on. That’s a beautiful thing to see in a young adult novel, since parents are often (if necessarily, as a plot device) sidelined. I also just think it’s great to see a close and supportive parental relationship in a book like this. Not something we always get a lot of. Thandie and Angie are definitely among my new favorite fictional parents.

Thanks to edelweiss and Bloomsbury USA for the chance to read an early copy of this excellent book.

Check it out for yourself on June 29, 2021.

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