Catch-up Review: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

30 May

I’m doing a series of catch-up review posts to try and make up for my year of not blogging. These are quick reviews of books I’ve read over 2012-2013.

The Poison TreeGenre: Psychological thriller



I love stories that glorify the student years – those years when consequences seem far away and the possibilities stretch endlessly.

When shy Karen is befriended by the gorgeous Biba, her life changes forever. Karen, who is studying linguistics has laid a staid, boring life so far. When Biba engages her to teach German (which she needs to know for the play she is in), she gets a taste of the hedonistic life that Biba leads. She moves into the rambling, rather decrepit house that Biba shares with her brother, Rex, and some other friends. While it starts with great promise and a sense of adventure, we know that this is not going to end well…

Ten years later, Karen and her ten-year-old daughter Alice pick up Rex from the prison. And in bits and pieces we start to find out what happened to bring them to this point. And while Karen is hyper-vigilant and wants to protect her family from the past, the reader knows that of course, this will not happen. The story doesn’t start with a bang, and for the first few pages I was left wondering where this was going. But it soon pulled me in and I wanted to find out what had really happened in that old house all those years ago.

I’ve loved other books like this – The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Likeness by Tana French – although all of them are very different genres, what they have in common is the school/college life – a life that is highly romanticised. Also see my review of Dominance by Will Lavender.


I enjoyed this psychological thriller, especially for the college life setting. It was also a well-told tale of mistakes and secrets.

Rating: 3.5*

*See myRating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Correction: The Secret Life corrected to The Secret History.


2 Responses to “Catch-up Review: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly”

  1. Gargi June 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    This sounds exciting! Also I think you mean The Secret History by Donna Tart, not The Secret Life?

    • stargazerpuj June 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      Yikes, yes I do – thanks for catching that. Corrected.

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