The Antidote by Shelley Sackier
ARC received via trade for a fair review.
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
After reading some lackluster reviews I wasn’t expecting to like this book all that much. I read the blurb but nothing in it really stood out to me and grabbed me, making me want to read it. But that all changed when I started actually reading. I ended up really liking this book! I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and looking forward to when I would get time next to finish where I left off. The characters while they started off somewhat immature and childish, soon grew on me and grew older in the book as well. Even in the end after everything wrapped up so neatly, I found myself wishing that there was more. I really grew to like these characters, the setting, and the story and wanted it to not come to an end!
Set in a fantasy world where magic used to once exist but now has been thought to be vanquished, witches are killed if found using magic and so therefore have gone into hiding. In the Kingdom of Fireli, the inhabitants are put under quarantine after a deadly contagion kills many of the people and the children are whisked away to other neighboring kingdoms to wait out the quarantine period. Among those sent away is Prince Rye, meanwhile his brother Xavi the future king, and their best friend and Rye’s betrothed since birth, Fee or Ophelia, both remain in the kingdom of Fireli because they have both been infected. Even though they were given an antidote that saved them from dying, they still must take it every day until they are sure that the contagion will no longer threaten their lives. With the end of the ten yea quarantine period coming to an end, things are starting to change and its not all for the better.
Fee, or Ophelia, was such a wild and unpredictable character. At first she was a little frustrating, with her feisty attitude and inability to follow any instructions that she was given. She was very immature and wanted only to satisfy her own whims regardless of the consequences. We do see her grow up quite a bit though throughout the course of the book, and thank goodness because I liked her much better as she got older. You start to see that her feelings for Prince Rye and King Xavi are more than just childish whims. She cares deeply for Xavi like an older brother and her best friend. And while she was separated from Rye for so long, she still holds on to her love for him as her future husband. This is not a love triangle so fear not! Just a sweet friendship and family bond formed between three children who grew up together and faced many hardships with each other to lean on. I love this type of relationship between characters. The love and kinship that forms from knowing someone your whole life is something that is so special and meaningful.
Fee is also gifted with magic. Her magic tends to lean towards plants and nature. She has had this little gift her whole life but has been told to hide her ability and to never let anyone else see, because if they think she is a witch she will be put to death. But Fee is anything but obedient and her connection to plants and nature is something she turns to when she has nothing else. What hurt could a little trick here and there do, right? Eventually she comes to see the cost of her magic and just what is at stake for using it. As well as all she is capable of. This story is a huge arc of character growth for Fee and it is such an adventure.
The setting mostly takes place in the kingdom of Fireli but then moves onto another kingdom later in the book, so its not hard to picture the village and the little stillroom cottage where most of the story takes place. The descriptions are not overwhelming and I found that the writing flows really well and it was easy to read. I never found myself hung up on any particular part and breezed through the entire book in a matter of a couple days. I like when a book flows so well that you look at your progress after being sucked into the story for a while to find you’ve read almost half the book! That was most definitely the case here and it was like that from beginning to end. I never found any dull moments or parts where I was confused as to what was going on. Even the politics and the magic system were really easy to follow, and those are the parts I tend to get a little lost in most of the time.
All in all, this was a fun, adventurous, romantic, sweet, and all around entertaining book to read. I am happy that I didn’t let my first assumption keep me from giving it a shot because I was pleasantly surprised. This might be one of my favorite romances in a book that I’ve read this year actually. There were some parts where my heart was pounding in my chest falling so in love with the words that they were saying to each other. I was swooning for sure! I would have been happy if this was a series instead of a standalone because I was just getting to know this world by the time it ended and I really liked how it was easy to understand and follow. If the author decides to write more in this world I am all there for it! Until then, hope you like this book as much as I did!
If you liked this book:
Keeping with the theme of hidden magic, The Black Witch by Laurie Forest is an excellent follow up book to The Antidote. In both of these books, our main character is kept from the true nature of their magical ability until one day they find out that its their magic that could be the answer to all of their problems. Both girls must overcome those who wish to keep their magic hidden, with fear of being discovered and persecuted they turn to those who they have come to trust to help them become what they were always meant to be… Powerful.
What books have you read that you weren’t expecting to like as much as you did? Have you ever been surprised like I was with The Antidote? Do you ever read a blurb and just know you’ll either love or hate a book? Let me know what you think!