A Poison Dark and Drowning – Jessica Cluess


The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

My Rating: 3.75 Stars

Because I gave the first book in the series 4 stars, I felt inclined to give this one just a bit of a lower rating. I liked it just a touch less than A Shadow Bright and Burning. Just a touch. 

The first thing I feel I need to address is the romance. What the hell is Henrietta putting in the London water? How many attractive, interesting men will declare their love for her by the time the series ends? And most importantly: how can I make a similar potion so that the men in Houston will fall helplessly in love with me? I’m sitting at home with cats writing a book review on a Saturday night, and this girl has half of London’s men swooning. But I digress…

The romance was, admittedly, the most frustrating part of the novel for me. There are technically three romantic interests (though, upon reflection, I do believe there is a clear front runner). I just didn’t feel any real chemistry in Henrietta’s relationships in this book. In A Shadow Bright and Burning, Magnus and Henrietta gave me goosebumps and butterflies. No such luck with Henrietta’s two suitors in this book. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! If Cluess is planning what I think she is, I will be very content with the romance in book 3.

Romance aside, A Poison Dark and Drowning didn’t disappoint in any other aspect. It was darker than the first novel and showed a lot of character growth: both in Henrietta’s relationships and within herself. With Magnus and Henrietta’s relationship strained, and her relationship with Blackwood becoming stronger, the group dynamic shifted in an interesting way. My favorite relationship in the book, however, was between Henrietta and Mickelmas. He was one of my favorite characters in book one and I was thrilled by his return.

Though this book contains no shocking betrayals, there is one unexpected twist. It did take me by surprise, but failed to shock me. I know that sounded kind of confusing so let me explain! As I was reading through it, I just kept thinking: Ah, that makes so much sense. A shocking twist would’ve had me thinking WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? See the difference?

My Takeaway: The romance in this novel suffered a bit for me (Henrietta, I’m patiently waiting for a love potion recipe), however, I believe I will like the direction Cluess is heading in. The action was as thrilling as ever, and there was never a dull moment. A Poison Dark and Drowning was definitely one of those books that kept me on the edge of my seat.

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