Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey

I have finished Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey. There might be some spoilers for the first two books. And to be fair this one as well.


The book
This is the last book in the trilogy Agent of Hel, and the final story about Daisy Johanssen. It is set in Pemkowet, a little town in Michigan that is a bit different. In that it has a real goddess, the Norse Hel, living under the city, so in the city there are the eldricht, which means vampires, werewolves, pixies and everything else, and Daisy, hellspawn extraordinaire. In this book there is a night hag, who comes and sits on people’s chests when they sleep, and feed off their fear, it’s based on the real-life concept of sleep paralysis. The bigger issue in the book is a hellspawn lawyer who is effectively buying the whole town, especially the area where Hel lives. He then files a lawsuit against the city, to be able to get the city basically. And if his client wins it will mean the end of the eldricht community.

My thoughts
I thought it was delightful. I love Carey’s writing. I’ve read most of her other work, and she’s quite good at writing different voices. This is very different from her epic fantasy, Daisy feels very contemporary and snarky and cool.

I love Daisy. She is tough, and strong, and resourceful, and resilient. She can be bitchy and judgmental, because sometimes people are. When she’s confronted with her worse qualities she thinks about what she’s doing and thinking and she tries to change.

The pacing is a bit weird, the book is sort of split into two. It felt a bit like the whole Night Hag thing was just there to follow the narrative of Daisy having to do something for the Pemkowet police force. It would have made more sense if the case she worked had a closer connection to the over-arching story of the court case. The lawsuit takes up a lot of time, and it goes over like months, which makes sense, it’s a multi-million dollar lawsuit. But it makes it move a bit slower.

There’s also the whole thing of Daisy’s birthright. She was fathered by an incubus, and she has a tail, and she has this birthright which she can invoke, it would give her lots of awesome demonic powers, and it would break the world. She has this thing hanging over her all the books, but it doesn’t feel like a real threat, because Daisy is just so good. She’s raised by a loving, kind, lovely mother, so she is inherently a good person, and you get the feeling she would never in her life invoke her birthright. So it’s… the way it was handled made sense. Because it wasn’t that she wanted it, but she was pushed to the very limit, and it was all she had left.

The whole romance thing is a bit… uncomfortable? I don’t know what I’m going for. I understand why Daisy wants to be with Stefan, because Cody, the person she wants to be with, isn’t available, and with Stefan she can be with an equal, but their relationship is so uncomfortable. There was a slightly dodgy moment. Stefan is a ghoul, and he feeds on emotion. Daisy has a lot of over-the-top emotions, because she’s demonic. There is a moment where she’s furious, and she goes and throws her emotions at Stefan, and he goes into this haze (ravening) where he can’t control himself, and he hurts her. And it’s a bit… clearly it is Daisy’s fault, she does something she knows can be extremely dangerous, but Stefan still shouldn’t hurt her. Now I realize he can’t help himself… but that is a really awful trope. If you can’t control yourself you shouldn’t be with someone you can potentially hurt. This is why Sam (?) the alpha werewolf dude from Twilight, shouldn’t be with his human girlfriend. He slashed her fucking face open. I’m kind of upset with this, clearly. I feel like Daisy and Stefan should have known this could have happened, because Daisy is 24, and hellspawn, and in love with someone else, so maybe their relationship wasn’t such a great idea. And if she had raged and ranted at Cody he wouldn’t have been pushed to hurt her. Now Daisy did something wrong, but it did lead to a moment of her basically blaming herself for being hurt. Even though she fucked up Stefan is several centuries old, and he should have known that he and Daisy would hurt each other. The fact that they can’t spend a night together after having sex should have been a warning sign. It feels like a very toxic and bad relationship, but because they’re both inherently good you want them to be happy.   

I liked the resolution to her hellspawn issue. I loved the fact that we got to meet more gods, and a crazy one at that. Although that wasn’t really Persephone’s fault. That she’s crazy I mean. I feel like Daisy’s hellspawn issue was solved a bit too conveniently, but it sort of worked. I liked the resolution to her love life too. Because I’m a softy.

I like the character growth for both Daisy and the secondary characters. The secondary characters aren’t just these boring people in the background, they have complex lives with issues and they aren’t completely reliant on Daisy.

Finally

I liked it. There are some hiccups, it wasn’t perfect, but I liked it. It’s fun.