Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison #2) by Natalie Mae

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (potentially 5☆)
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Natalie Mae
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: June 15th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


In this sequel to The Kinder Poison–which People magazine proclaimed a “delicious high-stakes adventure”–the magical kingdom of Orkena is on the brink of war, and the only person who can save it is Zahru, the girl they once doomed for death.

After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While crown prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she’s content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they’re dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he’s the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods’ mark as proof. Even more surprising–he’s not the only one.

Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can’t let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he’s crowned, there’s no telling what horrors he’ll unleash to win the war.

Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne…but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?

Thank you to PenguinTeen [Razorbill] and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.


No, but really.

If that’s the way this is ending I am definitely taking my rating down because that is cruel (ohhhh I did not see that pun coming).

If there’s another book, THEN HOT DANG, I STILL HAVE A CHANCE.

I have found a love triangle I am here for. And a villain with some remorse. These are the moments I am loving. This was a book I couldn’t put down. As soon as the first few chapters rolled by and I remembered everything that happened I was attached to the continuation. Maybe the plot wasn’t the strongest, but these characters are stunningly complex and I LOVE THAT.

I am so endgame for a particular couple in here (and if you know me you probably can guess, but I don’t want to spoil for anyone who read this). AND I JUST NEED IT TO HAPPEN. It will send this book next level because frankly, I’m intensely attached to this scenario.

This was beautifully written and rarely felt like it was diving into second book syndrome. Instead I saw growth on many fronts. I think the story is solid and like I mentioned earlier, realllllly needs a third book to wrap everything up. I want (read: NEED) more. This was entertaining and the writing made it feel like such a quick read. I was surprised how quickly I flew through it. Zahru was a great main character and had me laughing at her jokes and commentary. I to, am easily persuaded when desserts are involved.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical altercations, knives/swords, skirmishes, animal attacks, poison, assassination attempts; not overly bloody/gory

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison #1) by Natalie Mae

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Author: Natalie Mae
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.


Don’t sleep on this book guys. I picked it up on a literary whim and it turns out I loved it! It’s a pretty standard YA fantasy, but had that little something else that kept me intrigued and invested.

It was an enthralling adventure. For a mostly traveling book I didn’t feel like it took away from the sibling rivalry saga. There were enough changes in location, action scenes and quiet moments that made the whole journey come alive. I’m curious about the larger expanses of this land, but enjoyed what been initially given.

Okay, the romance. Yes, there is a tiny bit of a love triangle here. I wasn’t too phased by it though because it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen. I liked the lead-ups and steady rising chemistry between them. I found the relationship sweet by the end so I’m satisfied with it. We’ll see if book two ruins this though (why does this keep happening in sequels?!).

The magic system is still a touch undefined, but they’re a lot of cool powers running around. I liked learning more about them and how everyone fit into the nation’s hierarchy. This is something else I hope that gets expounded on in the sequel!

The ending has me gasping for some straws as to what happens next. It’s not a wild cliffhanger, I just definitely didn’t see it all coming. I like what was left open and can easily see another book for this installment (rather than thinking it should just stay as one).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Violence: murder, poison, physical, animal attacks, magic, swords/knives/arrows; not overly gory

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