Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: December 6th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they’re never heard from again.

Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.

When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.

Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake—and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself. 

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.


I wanted to love this. I went in hoping I would, buuuut here we are. I liked it, it just wasn’t a favorite.

It did have a very distinct YA fantasy feel. And I know that can be a winner for a lot. For me, I felt like I needed more. Something that added an edge, something I hadn’t read before. I don’t know. Within a few chapters I knew exactly what was going to happen and I wasn’t surprised by how it ended.

I did love Leelo as a main character. She has that strength and loyalty that I always appreciate in a FMC. I love that she was open to changing her opinions and took time to understand the new information that was being heaped upon her. Leelo handled a lot of things really well.

The romance is a bit much on the insta-love side. I was hoping for to see them connect over more things before confessions of love started rolling out. Leelo and Jaren were charming and easily sweet on each other.

I loved Leelo’s Mom and Brother. They were some of my favorite side characters and helped me enjoy and look forward to scenes with them. I liked the conclusion and do think it wrapped up things pretty well.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a parent, loss of loved ones, poison, weapons violence, murder, physical altercations

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