‘Lies Like Poison’ – Chelsea Pitcher

What a tangled web of lies and deceit these pages revealed…thank you to the publishers, Simon Schuster, and NetGalley for letting me read this prior to its October publication.

Poppy, Lily and Belladonna are our focus for this story and everything hinges on their relationship to Raven, their best friend. It isn’t immediately clear how this group formed or the reason for the dynamics between them – but we know they have a shared history, and would do anything to protect each other.

Our story opens with a body, that of Raven’s stepmother, being found. She has been poisoned with leaves of belladonna placed in her tea. There’s a recipe, written in fourteen year old Bella’s handwriting, on the table next to her that outlines the perfect poison. It would seem that Bella came good on her vow to protect her best friend Raven from his abusive stepmother.

It all seems clear-cut, but then things start unravelling. Poppy – who now calls herself Jack – claims Bella was with her on the night of the murder. The police don’t believe her as Poppy was the one who first went to the police years ago with claims that Raven’s stepmother was hurting him. She is told to go away and think about her story…and determines to work out what happened.

We have our story split into three distinct parts – the truth according to Bella, Jack and then Lily. As we read each story we unpick the various deceits these characters (and those around them) have told, and learn more about the complex background of each.

There was a fairytale quality to this story, and while it focuses on murder it also charts the journey each character has towards acceptance of themselves and their situation. Mercurial in tone, constantly shifting and leaving us with a sense of uncertainty, this was a story that delivered a lot more than it promised. I can’t wait to see what others make of it.