A review by lauraglovestoread
Master of Poisons, by Andrea Hairston

adventurous dark hopeful sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Master of Poisons is epic fantasy on a grand scale -- many locations, many years passing, multiple dimensions even -- inspired by African Traditional Religions + folklore and following Djola, the title Master Of Poisons, as he attempts to save his homeland from dangers that are simultaneously environmental, political, and magical.  I appreciate a lot about this book.  The characters are diverse (lots of LGBTQ+ representation here), and even many of the secondary characters are well developed as complex + nuanced.  The worldbuilding is fantastic -- Hairston's rich descriptions are vibrant and the setting feels entirely real -- and the writing beautiful.  I did struggle with the pace at times: I actually really enjoyed the elements of the story that some other reviewers have described as 'slow burn' as strong character development really held my attention, but some of the more 'fast action' parts almost felt so abrupt that I had to backtrack and re-read to find my footing and fully know what was going on.  All in all, a highly original fantasy with excellent characters and world-building; I'll be happy to read more of Hairston's work in the future.
Content warnings: violence, blood, slavery, kidnapping, torture, transphobic violence, mention of sexual violence

Expand filter menu Content Warnings