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December 8, 2022

The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford ~ a Review

by MK French


Outsiders must choose to be cast into the bloodthirsty Forest or the poisonous lake. Even natives of Endla must make that choice if they don't have the magic of the enchanted song that the community leaves. Leelo loves Endla, but her brother might be exiled soon, and she saves a stranger that nearly drowned in the lake. This is a shocking betrayal of all Endla believes in, but she soon realizes that there are other dangerous things besides the lake.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of young adult fantasy novel The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford
December 2022; Inkyard Press; 978-1335915801
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); YA fantasy

The island where Endla is located lies within a poisoned lake close enough to the mainland that the water freezes solid in winter. This allows people or animals to cross over. The poison will dissolve flesh and bones, and the forest on the island wants payments of blood to keep the residents safe. Magic songs can be used for hunting, luring, or rejoicing. Leelo is hoping her brother can be saved and is willing to break rules in order to do so. She is the only one besides her mother who really cares about Tate in her family; later we find out a secret her mother kept that explains why Leelo's aunt behaves the way that she does.

It isn't a surprise that Leelo and Jaren fall for each other; she knows every other boy her age on the island, and there are only three hundred families on the island. He's new and forbidden, and he relies on her help. But they do feel alone and isolated in their home communities, which gives them a means to bond aside from the inevitable attraction. Of course, they're found out, and of course, Jaren isn't trusted. By then, the two truly care for each other, and Leelo learns more about her people's ways ahead of when she is meant to. There's more to the island's history and how the elders run it, though they think it's meant to protect their people from outsiders that would want to kill them.

The final chapters of the book carry a melancholy air to them. We see the long-term consequences of the Endlan actions and hints of what the future will likely be. There's hope within the sadness; change has come to the island, and nothing is as it used to be. Life is like that, though. Even with loss, nature will return and bring new life again. 

Buy The Poison Season 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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