The Poison Eaters by Holly Black [P2]
Welcome to part two of the six part review of The Poison Eaters and Other Short Stories 🙂
The next titles I’ll be talking about are The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Night Market. For my comments on the first two stories please check out Part 1 of 6.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is probably the shortest short story I’ve read so far, which honestly isn’t saying much considering it’s the third story in the book 😛
But there’s something very suspenseful about it. It starts off with a family of 4, two adults and their two children. We have the main character Alex who loves anything to do with facts. He mentions that he’s read a book that talks about a white flower that makes him nervous, just for the simple fact that he doesn’t know if it’s a real flower or not. It’s a flower that supposedly turns people into werewolves, which considering his very realistic vibe is pretty laughable.
As his family sails to shore he starts exploring and finds the flower.
One thing I really enjoyed about this short story was the inner thoughts of Alex. Like I already mentioned, I thought it was hilarious that he would believe in Werewolves considering he’s very facts-oriented (though I suppose there’s nothing that discredits the existence of Werewolves? so he could be right).
Faced with the flower he imagines many scenarios and tries to think of the best course of action: should he just let it be? perhaps it’s not even the flower from the book? maybe nothing will happen? what if his parents accidentally sniff it or come into contact with it? what would happen? what if his sister were the first one? At least he would be able to warn them of the danger…
If I had to complain about one thing I would say that the ending was slightly convenient. I know this is a teen’s book so something gory or explicit wouldn’t be the best course of action but I think it could have gone better. It did have a dark feel to it, especially with his last thoughts, but I was just left dumbfounded like ‘why is that old woman there and what is she doing?’
His mouth watered and he crept closer. She might be someone’s grandmother, but at least she wasn’t his.
The Night Market
Remember how excited I was about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? Well, here’s a story that is even more exciting (or that can at least rival it)! The Night Market tells the story of Tomasa as she enters the world of magical creatures in order to cure her sister of a curse that an enkanto (enchanter/faerie creature) has placed on her.
As they headed home from school, Tomasa and Eva were caught in a storm. Not wanting to walk through it, Eva decides to stay under a tamarind tree and sends Tomasa home, however, when Eva comes home she’s in a panic and the next day she’s fallen ill. An enkanto has fallen in love with her and has placed her under a curse, Rosa informs them, and only until his love fades will she be well again.
Not willing to wait, Tomasa tries everything in her power to make the enkanto change his mind. Offerings don’t work, trying to cut down his tree is out of the question, and dealing with other creatures only leaves her in a load of trouble.
One of the major reasons I enjoyed this story was that it felt complete. There was a problem, multiple situations, and a resolution. Everything that was added felt relevant, even the little scenes where Tomasa asks Rosa (their maid), to give her more information on the enkanto that had enchanted her sister.
In terms of characters, I really enjoyed Tomasa and the enkanto. Tomasa comes off as very self conscious (her scar) and is overall negative about her appearance and what she looks like to potential lovers. We can see this when the enkanto gives her an enchanted fruit, saying that whoever eats it will fall in love with her. But even still she loves her sister and goes to great lengths to make her well again. For some reason I would have imagined her to have some kind of complex or resenting feelings for her sister.
To see her dedication and love towards Eva was very refreshing.
The enkanto, on the other hand, had a different appeal. While Tomasa was very straightforward, the enkanto had a certain push and pull allure and I enjoyed reading about him. I was imagining some kind of faerie creature (physically) but the description given makes him seem like your everyday pretty boy. From his first appearance and how he accepted the offering that Tomasa brought him, I also thought he would be a jerk.
Of course that view completely flew out the window when it was revealed that he was looking out for Tomasa as she ventured into the Night Market. And the ending only made me smile big for the both of them!
I also feel like there were so many ways this story could have gone. I initially thought that the enkanto was unknowingly Tomasa because she loved her sister so much, and was therefore making her sick. There was something that the actual enkanto said to her that almost hinted at that possibility, however, it was quickly discarded once I realized that Tomasa must have loved her sister from much earlier and Eva’s sickness was recent.
“If you really loved her, you would let her get better,” said Tomasa.
“But I don’t love her,” the enkanto said.
Also, that ending was really nice. In a way, the enkanto had given Tomasa everything that she needed to come to love herself.
The only thing I would have to comment on is that Eva’s insult was never brought up. The enkanto only mentions that she insulted him and it’s not something relevant but it is something I’m really curious about.
This makes 4 stories down and 8 to go! 🙂
Until next time~