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November 10, 2020

Lies Like Poison by Chelsea Pitcher ~ a Review

by MK French

Belladonna Drake was entangled in her true love's arms when a knock came at the door. Slowly, quietly, she inched out of bed. "Don't say anything," she whispered, creeping toward the window. (p. 5)
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Lies Like Poison
November 2020; Margaret K. McElderry Books
978-1534470958; audio, ebooks, print (304 pages)
YA Thriller
Three years ago, Belladonna, Poppy, and Lily planned a murder to protect their friend Raven. They never went through with it, but someone has now killed Raven's stepmother just before his seventeenth birthday as they planned. Only, it was just Belladonna in her tea, so Bella is arrested. Her former friends are asked to prove her innocence, but a lot more is at stake when the truth is revealed.

Bella might be the one arrested, and Raven sent away for the prior three years after nearly killing himself, but Poppy and Lily are sure that Bella isn't the killer. Poppy has become Jack, more comfortable in boys' clothes even though she is still the pronoun of choice out of fear that others will hate Jack-as-a-boy. Jack's mother is racist and homophobic, casually abandoning her children when the mood strikes her to stay with boyfriends. Lily was in a psychiatric facility because of her disordered eating, but even that isn't what it looks like.

Everyone in the book lies for various reasons, and the relationships between the four friends/couples are strained in different directions as they mistrust each other and doubt their memories. They each have different variations on the truth, their perspectives warped by time and emotions. Just when I thought I knew who killed Evelyn, that theory got yanked out and upturned. The fragments of story leading up to the night Evelyn died finally coalesce at the end so that we know exactly what happened and why. It's a devastating ending for Raven, but he still has hope for the future and a life free from the lies that had dogged him for years. I'm not sure it'll be as rosy as he thinks it will be, but I'm rooting for them all.

Buy Lies Like Poison at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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