Blood to Poison

- Mary Watson


Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It’s a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella’s girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began. Hella’s girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die.

The anger is bursting from Savannah – at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother’s disingenuous fiancé, even at her own loving family. Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because the key to survival lies in the underbelly of Cape Town, where the sinister veilwitches are waiting for just such a girl.



I am troubled by a memory that never happened.


solid, good read:
I really enjoyed this contemporary fantasy set in South Africa. The way Watson represented generational trauma and abuse as a magical blood curse was incredibly profound.

Savannah is not a likeable character. She’s angry and stubborn, rushes headfirst into every decision with little thought or planning, and rarely learns from her mistakes. She lashes out when things aren’t going her way, changes allegiances based on who she’s spoken to last, and always seems to jump to the wrong conclusion. It’s so hard to be on her side. I wanted to shake her, tell her to stop making rash decisions, and just consider thinking something through.
Before stealing and drinking a mysterious potion, confronting burglars without anything to defend herself, walking alone through an unsafe area in the dark, spilling secrets to near strangers, or bragging about turning keys without proof.. the examples are neverending.
And yet, the more reckless and thoughtless Savannah became, the more I wanted to believe in her. As she confronts her tormentors and faces her ancestor’s abuse, I began to understand her anger. As she tries to support her mother and works to become reacquainted with old friends, I wanted her to embrace her anger. And as she fought to break the curse that had haunted her family for generations, I felt her desperation and her need to do everything and anything that could work or lead to a solution.

In the end, I may not have liked Savannah or even agreed with her, but I understood her. I appreciate the story Watson told and felt the anger and power behind her words. Deceptively simple, there’s a true complexity of emotion behind everything that happens, and it was a refreshing change of setting from any contemporary fantasy I’ve read before. I would love to return to this world and these characters – one book is not enough.


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