Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (St. Martin’s Press)
Why I decided to read: I heard about this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
How I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, May 2010
Set in 1492, Poison is told from the point of view of Francesca Giordano, professional poisoner to the Borgia family (or, more accurately, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope). Cardinal Borgia is a dangerous man, willing to do anything to further his ambitions, and he hires Francesca to help poison the current pope. Meanwhile, Francesca discovers a plot that her father, also a professional poisoner, may have been involved in.
I did like the premise, I really did; that’s why I decided to read this book. It has a great, eye-catching opener, too, which kept me reading. But the plot is so convoluted and so “been there, done that,” that I found myself not caring anymore about what happened to any of the characters. I guess my main problem with the novel is that it fell short of my expectations; I expected a story about the Borgias as told by someone somewhat close to them, and instead I got an overblown adventure/romance story. Cardinal Borgia and Cesar make appearances here and there, and Lucrezia appears once or twice, but that’s about it.
As I read, I increasingly found myself disliking Francesca, especially since the book is written in the first person. She’s very modern, independent, intelligent, and yes, she wears boy’s clothing out in public so that she may move around more freely. Basically, she can do anything she wants to, and doesn’t seem to care about the consequences—even after she’s been attacked by a bunch of thugs. I simply didn’t “buy” her as a person form the 15th century. She’s the keeper of a lot of people’s secrets, yet, as another reviewer says, she’s way too chatty. I also didn’t really get her whole relationship with Cesar Borgia, which seemed to be there for sake of being there; it didn’t add very much to the plot. As an adventure/romance story, this might work for some people, but as historical fiction, I didn’t particularly care for it.