A Medieval world of court intrigue
“The Poison Throne” is the first installment in “The Moorehawke Trilogy” by Irish author Celine Kiernan. In this Medieval-inspired world of intrigue, royal bloodlines and secret passages the author focuses on the poignant coming-of-age story of Wyn-ter Moorehawke, as the protagonist confronts a mad king, whose ruthless political machinations sacrifice all but his fractured kingdom, racial in-tolerance against her beloved childhood friend, and the ultimate loss of innocence.
The novel follows Wynter’s struggles to come in terms with the current realities of court after spending the last few years abroad and returning home with sweet memories of a blissful childhood. However, the truth shatters her fragile illusions. Thrown into the midst of political games and corruption, the main heroine aims to restore the balance and peace of the kingdom. Aided by her dear friend Lord Razi and the sexually promiscuous Christopher Garron, Wynter sets out on a path of unknown danger that may ultimately lead to her demise.
Universal in its appeal
Even though “The Poison Throne” is considered to be young adult fantasy fiction, it is more of a historical novel sprinkled here and there with talking, obscenely arrogant cats and helpful vs. hate-filled spirits. Moreover, Celine Kiernan has suffused the book with many a references regarding the current state of affairs in the world; racial and religious intolerance, a weapon of mass destruction, an armed rebellion are just a few on the list. It is, therefore, not only a deeply moving story of cursed love and bitter disappointment and villainous treachery, but also a well thought out chronicle of our world. “The Poison Throne” is universal in its appeal.
A balanced writing style
In terms of writing style, this is a fast-paced and complex read introducing its characters in the third person. The plot, as can be gathered, is rather schematic in summary, but in fact quite intricate in execution. There were, fortunately, quite a few unexpected twists and turns that will leave you craving for more. And, of course, the cliffhanger at the end is practically mocking. In fact, “The Poison Throne” is so well-written that any flaws regarding the formulaic plot are simply forgotten as the novel progresses. And it does develop with striking detail, yet is brisk and wonderfully balanced.
Unique characters in a Gothic atmosphere
What undoubtedly made the novel unique, however, are the characters of Wynter, her father, Razi, Christopher and a multitude of other secondary characters. They are so lively and heavy with human vices and virtues that realism is within the reader’s grasp during all times. What’s more, their interaction is life-like and not contrived in any sense, which makes them instantly likeable. The book gives a thrilling feel of a Gothic mystery, as ghosts are practically ubiquitous, and the author has used this to the novel’s advantage; the tinge of horror creates an even richer atmosphere.
In conclusion, Celine Kiernan’s “The Poison Throne” is an excellent read filled with memorable characters a reader sympathizes with, a well-wrought story that is a pinch clichéd but otherwise absorbing, and, of course, a scene of court intrigue, tense internal and external struggles and an unlikely love story. Highly recommended.