Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MASTER OF POISONS by Andrea Hairston Kirkus Star


by Andrea Hairston

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-250-26054-3
Publisher: Tor

An epic fantasy set in an African-inspired world on the brink of ecological disaster.

Djola, the Arkhysian Empire’s Master of Poisons, has a plan to stop the spreading poison desert. Hezram, a powerful priest, offers to use dark blood magic. But Djola believes in his “map to tomorrow,” which involves searching for a powerful spell to unravel the cause of the dangerous void-storms. Awa has an affinity with bees and a talent for traveling to Smokeland, the spirit realm. Sold to the Green Elders on her 12th birthday, Awa comes of age on the margins of empire, learning from Yari, the griot (storyteller) of griots. Along the way, she will learn to question much of what she’s been taught: about the Elders, about people the Empire calls "savages," and about “vesons,” who, like Yari, are neither man nor woman. Both Djola and Awa will be tested, and both will make enormous sacrifices to save the people—and the world—they love. This complex story spans years, travels to every corner of a richly imagined fantasy world, and even dips into the minds of elephants, bees, and rivers: “The Bees...dream of pools of nectar, clouds of pollen, and evening dew heavy with flower scent. Why dream of anything else?”

This book’s lyrical language and unsparing vision make it a mind-expanding must-read.