by Breeana Shields
Series: Poison's Kiss #2
Published on January 16, 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A single kiss could kill. A single secret could save the kingdom.
Iyla and Marinda have killed many men together: Iyla as the seductress, Marinda as the final, poisonous kiss. Now they understand who the real enemy is—the Snake King—and together they can take him down. Both girls have felt as though they were living a lie in the past, so moving into the King's palace and pretending to serve him isn't as difficult as it sounds. But when you're a spy, even secrets between friends are dangerous. And each girl has something—or someone—to lose. Does every secret, every lie, bring them closer to the truth or . . . to a trap?
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I made the mistake of reading Poison’s Cage a year after tackling Poison’s Kiss and I paid the price. Sometimes, you know, a sequel fills in the gaps a bit for readers who aren’t reading a series back-to-back, either through an obvious recap or woven into the first few chapters. That didn’t happen with this book and for the first 25% or so I was completely lost. I’ve quite literally read hundreds of books since Poison’s Kiss, I’m not going to remember everything and I didn’t find it to be a memorable first book anyway.
Getting back to Poison’s Cage, in short, read this one fairly soon after the first book. Once I started shifting back into the world of visha kanyas and god-like creatures worshipped by mortals come to life, things improved. One of my problems with the last book was a lack of world in any sort of depth to be interesting. Shields went into overdrive and the world, the culture she’s created, all of it fueled the plot and it’s a good thing too or I might not have stuck around for the sequel. I loved the mythology focus and seeing how the stories played out in the “current day” of the novel. It’s what I missed in book 1 and was happy to see brought up in the sequel.
But the characters still didn’t do it for me. Marinda was still lacking something. She’s just not all that interesting of a heroine. Everything she does is to protect her brother Mani but she goes to such exaggerated lengths to do this that I questioned her intelligence on more than one account. To be honest, I enjoyed reading the chapters from Ilya’s point of view more. They popped up here and there, enough to make Ilya another protagonist in her own right and far more interesting. She was once a seductress and spy, used to make Marinda stronger while selling her own lives in exchange so she has a lot of reason to hate Marinda but she doesn’t. And her storyline kept the story moving, the acts of betrayal, spying on the Crocodile King, meeting a cute boy (though I have thoughts on the romance subplots in this book. . .). She captured my attention more than Marinda and made this book better than the first for that reason.
And as to that romance – ugh. It wasn’t as strong for most of the novel (thankfully) though there were scenes with Marinda and Deven together being super couple-y but not really enforcing why I should care if they’re together or not. Then Ilya got a romantic subplot which I enjoyed more because it was fun to watch the banter but it moved far too fast, much like Marinda and Deven in the previous book, but I actually saw something between Ilya and her guy. The romance lead to a sickly-sweet epilogue and not in the good way (I love romances, y’all, but not how this was done).
But Poison’s Cage did wrap up fully. I don’t feel like there’s room for more nor would I really want to read more in this particular series. I may pick up future books by the author, though. This was a slightly improved sequel in a pretty average duology.