Friday, October 07, 2011

The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories by Holly Black

The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories by Holly Black

Completion Date: September 22, 2011
Reason for Reading: R.I.P. Challenge VI
Poisonous girls whose kisses will kill. A fateful eating contest with the devil. Faeries who return to Ironside, searching for love. A junior prom turned bacchanalia. In twelve short stories, eerie and brimming with suspense and unexpected humor, Holly Black twists the fantastical creatures you thought you knew in ways you’ll never expect.
Holly Black is a bit hit-or-miss with me. The first book I ever read by her was Tithe and I really enjoyed it, but then when I went on to read the sequel I was very disappointed. I didn't read her again for a very long time, but I am coming around to her again and she does have some really good work to enjoy. In the past I have read short story collections she has edited, but this is a short story collection of her original works.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Imagine a world where people actually want to become vampires because they can live forever. Not everyone thinks like that, but the people that do are becoming an epidemic. There is a whole community dedicated to vampires called Coldtown. This short story opens with a young girl who has been recently bitten and attempting to remain intoxicated in order to ignore the impulse to attack humans for blood. Then, things change. She accepts her fate in order to save others, but uses it as a chance to show the world just how horrific it is to become a vampire. It has been romanticized way too much and she is determined to show that isn't always the case. I enjoyed this story. I am getting a bit tired of vampires, but this was original enough to be good.

A Reversal of Fortune
This story sounds epic, but A Reversal of Fortune is just a fancy way of saying vomiting. This is the story about a young girl who gets into an eating contest with the Devil. I really don't think I can talk about it anymore because one aspect of the story disgusted me so much I feel ill just talking about this story. It's not to say it is a bad story, but it is also not for the weak-stomached.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Another paranormal craze that is starting to get worn out for me is werewolves. I assumed judging by the tone of this book and the stories title, this would be another take on the werewolf myth. A young boy reads about a type of flower that turns those that come into contact with it into werewolves. He begins to obsess about it a bit and then one day when his family are on vacation he sees what he assumes are those flowers. The outcome might surprise you a bit. I am not sure what to make of this story. It was strange, but good, I guess.

The Night Market
When I saw the title for this story I immediately thought of 'Goblin Market' by Christina Rossetti. I was sort of hoping it was a retelling. The story itself is rather different, but it does have a few elements that reminded me of Rossetti's poem. In the story a sister is wasting away because she ate a piece of fruit, but instead of a goblin it is an elf. The sister attempts to save her and things go off in a very different direction than they did in Rossetti's poem. I particularly liked this story and especially related to the ending. I think most people have moments where they can relate to the ending!

The Dog King
This is another story that is centred around the werewolf idea. It was also rather good. I am impressed by how consistent this collection has been so far. I haven't really hated any of the stories so far. Anyway, this story was a bit odd at the same time. I hate to give too much away because it is supposed to be a bit mysterious. I was obviously trying to figure out just what the title related to in the story. Let's just say it is the story of a young boy that is not exactly what he seems and might be a bit smarter than given credit for in the beginning.

This is a unicorn story. I sort of expected that based on the title. A young girl has been living in foster care and has ran away to live on the streets. She meets lots of interesting characters along the way. One of these characters believes in unicorns. It was a pretty good story, but I am afraid if I talk about it any more I will give too much away.

In Vodka Viritas
This is a story about the Latin Club. They are at a boarding school and are very smart, so they are ridiculed for their brains. The main character, a bit of an outcast himself, stumbles upon them in an abandoned section of the school and interesting things are put into play. This story was really a bit strange and is about magic potions and the need for revenge. It is the perfect story for high school and the need to feel accepted, but hopefully no one feels the need to go quite so far!

The Coat of Stars
This is a fairy story, but not your typical fairy story. Raphael had a friend when he was younger. They loved each other in a special way. Things were not perfect at home for his friend, though, and he was a bit depressed. They make a plan to run away from home, but the night before they are supposed to his friend commits suicide. Raphael is devastated and never entirely recovers from that night even though it is years later and he is home visiting his parents. The thing is that his friend might not be dead after all. This was a story that actually takes into play other elements from famous fairy traditions, but I have never read a story quite like it before. I choose to be mysterious and make people want to read it.

Paper Cuts Scissors
I loved this story! It is like a short story version of Inkheart in the fact that their are characters that can read themselves into books and others that can read characters out of books. What would happen, though, if you were in a fight with your girlfriend and before anything was really resolved, she read herself in a book. This story looks at that idea. It is fun to visit with characters from famous novels and to see how the books have been changed as a result of the characters ability to read people in and out. It made for a fun story, but a little dark at the same time.

Going Ironside
It has been a while since I read Tithe and its sequel by Black, but from what I can remember this is a short story version of the same type. I didn't really get it. It didn't make any impression on me. It was almost confusing.

The Land of Heart's Desire
Okay, let's be honest here. I only recently finished this book and I all ready can't remember this story. It also uses characters from Tithe, so maybe that was my problem.

The Poison Eaters
The title story from this collection. This story had a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. It was definitely a darkish read, too. It is the story of three sisters who can kill you will a kiss. They have been raised for nefarious means that make for interesting reading. I think it was a good story to end the collection with.

Overall, I liked this collection. Recommended!


  1. I hadn't heard of this one. Off to check it out!

  2. I am not a short story reader...I think I get attached to the story quickly and am not ready to let to. These sound interesting though :)

  3. Anonymous10:39 PM

    I love the sound of this book. I might pull is out in a few weeks when we get closer to Halloween.

  4. I'll add this to my list! Her urban fairy books weren't to my taste, but I think I might like her in short story form!

  5. **Linda: Me either at first. I had just stumbled on it and thought it looked interesting.

    **Peppermint: Yes, I am not a big short story reader either. I try to work some in here and there for some variety, but I can't overdo it or I get bored.

    **celawerdblog: It was pretty good. I hope you enjoy it!

    **Charlotte: Yes, I wasn't a huge fan of her urban fantasy books either, but her short stories are good. Except the two stories connected to her other books...

  6. I'm not a fan of short storie, or maybe I just don't seek them out. When I do read them, I enjoy them. This one sounds good.

  7. **jenclair: I don't really like short story collections either. They have to really appeal to me for me to actually finish them...

  8. Short story collections can either be something I REALLY enjoy or REALLY dislike - this was one of the few that I really enjoyed! Glad to hear that you enjoyed most of the stories in it. :)

  9. **Court: Maybe I read this book because of you? I can't remember...


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