I really wanted to love The Poison Throne
. Not just because it sounded like the sort of book I should love—Mystery! Intrigue! Romance! Adventure!—but because I picked it up in New Zealand, several months before it would even come out in the US. And while I usually depend on other people's recommendations for my reading selections, it would be nice, for once, to be on the cutting edge, to discover a gem before everyone else and be the one doing the recommending.
And it is
good. Its setting was exquisitely realized, a faux-European kingdom of the middle ages with a realistic feel that I haven't often seen. The characters are deep and intriguing. And there is a promise of mystery and profound happenings.
But that's where the book falls flat. For that's all the promise ever is—a promise. Wynter Moorhawke, our intrepid heroine, returns home after a five year absence, to discover that something is not right with the kingdom. We see a lot of what is wrong, but we never really learn why
things have changed so much; for that matter, we never really learn the circumstances under which the king sent Wynter and her Father away in the first place, except in the way of the most roundabout and vague hints.
And so, while the characters go through trying times and make difficult choices, I was never entirely sure what their motives or reasoning were. It was too clear that there were things they
knew that I
did not. (Or else they blithely ignored the questions that any rational person should
have been asking in their situation.) It kept me from being as involved as I should have been and, even though I enjoyed my reading of the story, by the end I was left asking: what was the point? This is the first in a trilogy; I can only hope that the later books fill in everything that was missing here. But even if they do, it leaves this first installment wanting.