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by Maryrose Wood

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-180236-2
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Jessamine, 16, tends house and garden for her stern apothecary father in isolated Northumberland. Thomas Luxton relentlessly catalogs the properties of plants, visits London for days and forbids Jessamine from entering his locked garden of poisonous specimens. Weed, an orphan able to commune with plants, irrevocably alters their lives as he and Jessamine fall in love. Employing a “concept created by the Dutchess of Northumberland” (whose renowned gardens at Alnwick Castle include a poison garden), Wood fashions a narrative whose conventions of gothic romance intertwine with, then utterly succumb to, the brutal forces of human obsession. As Jessamine sickens mysteriously, Weed desperately seeks her cure, entering the poison garden repeatedly, goaded by Jessamine’s sinister father. Like the supernatural hecklers of Greek mythology, the denizens of the poison garden—their “Prince,” Oleander, paramount—torment Weed into unspeakable acts in love’s service. Innocent Jessamine’s garden diary is taken up by Weed two-thirds in, permitting the author to dig at the notions of human goodness and love’s purity until she exposes their base elements. Absorbing, with room for a sequel. (Historical fantasy. YA)