The Poisons We Drink

Bethany Baptiste

To me, a flawed character is a gift from an author, which makes this book an absolute treasure trove. Since, morally grey is the preferred color of pretty much everyone in this book!

The Poisons We Drink, by Bethany Baptiste, is an emotionally driven witchy delight that kept me up and swallowing words long after the sun disappeared. The story, according to the author, is her tribute to black women. She also stated it is her way of describing and dealing with the rage she and so many of us have felt after being shoved down into the dirt of life, while still being expected to rise and shine in spite of it all. And let me be clear. She pulls no punches, and she speaks no lies!

Now there are trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, so please, if you cannot handle such topics, put the book down and glide away.

But if you are still here and interested, let me tell you why you will truly love this one. I gave it a full 5 stars without hesitation. 

You all know I love adventures and mysteries, and of course found family. The book has that, but not in the usual way the books I read usually have that trope.

This book has a lot of secrets, and it is mostly centered on a singular family, but they are not in sync with one another. Venus, our main protagonist, is a young witch who is the breadwinner for the family but is managed by her mom, who is hardcore and really comes off as being almost heartless, something Venus and her sister struggle with in unique ways. In terms of the world they live in, they are in a time when magical gifts have been revealed, and regular humans are furious about it. There are hate groups, anti magic legislation in play, and there have been direct traumatic events that have affected this family. All of which sets the tone of the book. You get a full sense of the world the characters are living in, as well as how they are all dealing with it individually.

Which, by the way, spans across the board, from pretending it does not exist to engaging in violent protest action, which gives us… yummy conflict! 

Technically, this is not quite a found family, but more along the lines of a family trying to connect and help each other through trying times.

Ms. Baptiste is especially skilled at describing the issues and feelings of the characters, as they all find ways to navigate everyday life. You feel the struggles, and many will identify with them.

This plays out through their interactions with one another and the actions taken at various times to protect one another. Honestly, relationships shape this story. Specifically, the ones that define us all. Those children have with their parents, those parents have with their children, because they are not the same. And then those that siblings have between each other, especially sisters. Expanding from those core bonds, and usually based on them, are the relationships individuals have with cousins, lovers, and most important of all, themselves.

These are the connections our author focuses on in this book and shreds to their fundamental strands of existence. She then spreads them out for our reading pleasure and starts rebuilding these family ties link by link.

It was brilliant!

It was gripping!

There were twists and turns that stole my breath away, and every single person at some point was THE villain. People just could not stop making bad choices. It was DE-LI-CIOUS!

And at distinct moments in the book, I strongly felt the urge to reach in and shake a character until they caught some common sense again. The stress! The scrumptious stress of it all!

Personally, I enjoy plumbing these depths, and facing generational scars and truths that may never be healed, only grown past. So be aware this is not a light fluffy read, this is a dark web of magic, flaws, lies, sacrifice, and a fair amount of political intrigue. It is also a warning. One that reminds us of the legacy of love without communication and the damage it can cause.

When the book concluded, though, even with the drama, the gore, and the chaos, I felt a strong sense of joy, righteous triumph, and justice. Not something any of us are very familiar with in real life, hence why we read books like these!

As I said, 5 full stars for this one. With its excellent world building, scandalous secrets, family drama, along with black people fighting for those they love, I mean, how could it not be?

You should find out for yourself though and go read it! Then come back and tell me how right I was lol!

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