Review: The Poisons We Drink by Bethany Baptiste

The Poisons We Drink by Bethany Baptiste cover shows a brown-skinned girl with pink hair standing in a pink fog.

The Poisons We Drink
Bethany Baptiste
Sourcebooks Fire
Published March 5, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Poisons We Drink

In a country divided between humans and witchers, Venus Stoneheart hustles as a brewer making illegal love potions to support her family.

Love potions is a dangerous business. Brewing has painful, debilitating side effects, and getting caught means death or a prison sentence. But what Venus is most afraid of is the dark, sentient magic within her.

Then an enemy’s iron bullet kills her mother, Venus’s life implodes. Keeping her reckless little sister Janus safe is now her responsibility. When the powerful Grand Witcher, the ruthless head of her coven, offers Venus the chance to punish her mother’s killer, she has to pay a steep price for revenge. The cost? Brew poisonous potions to enslave D.C.’s most influential politicians.

As Venus crawls deeper into the corrupt underbelly of her city, the line between magic and power blurs, and it’s hard to tell who to trust…Herself included.

The Poisons We Drink on Goodreads

My Review

I loved so many things about this book. First, of course, I loved the relationship between Janus and Venus, who are sisters. They’re very different from one another and argue a lot, but at the end of the day, each one knows her sister has her back.

I also loved the magic system. It’s complex, but really interesting. Venus is a “brewer,” meaning she makes potions. But in order to do this, she must commit to only one kind of potion brewing. She has committed to brewing potions in love magic, so things that impact relationships.

She gets embroiled in a political scheme when legislators propose a bill that would mean witchers (magic users) would be required to register with the government, which, considering the way witchers are already treated by the government, would be a terrible thing. I liked the way the political issue drove the story forward. It made for high stakes and some intense reckoning over morals and what someone might be willing to do to protect the people they love or avenge a loved one’s murder.

While I loved the magic system, there were a couple of moments– not a lot of them– where I got confused about how things worked. An action suddenly broke a bond. A character could suddenly do a kind of magic I thought she wasn’t supposed to be capable of or didn’t pay the price that I thought she said would be exacted if she took certain actions.

It’s possible that those were fixed before the book was released (I read a pre-release copy). Even with those few hiccups, I was super carried away reading the story of this wild, pink-haired witcher ready to mete out justice or vengeance, as the situation demanded, no matter the personal cost.

The Poisons We Drink on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Venus and other characters are Black. Venus is queer. Another character is nonbinary.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two people. One chapter opens with an explicit sex scene. A couple takes a bath together.

Spiritual Content
Some characters can perform magic, limited by the energy they have in their bodies, which they can replenish with special baths and teas or naturally replenishes over time. Powerful magic can sap so much energy from a person that it kills them. When someone breaks a magical oath or does something terrible using magic, a deviation or corrupt magical being can become part of them. This deviant will continue to try to break free or take control of its host.

Violent Content
Humans fear and hate magic users. They legislate ways to control them, from limiting the number of witchers who can be in a single area legally at a time to proposing a bill that would require each witcher to register with the government (because that always goes good places). Terrorists target witchers. Enforcers use violence to break up witcher gatherings.

In addition, some scenes show violence during magic use, such as bones shifting or breaking, and brief descriptions of body horror. A powerful blood ritual binds two people after they press their cut palms together. References to murders by gunshot, bomb, or other means. Venus attacks a few people who have tried to harm her or her family members. In one scene, a person uses a magical bond to control another and makes them stab themselves.

Drug Content
Venus can create potions that convince people to forgive one another, love someone, or make them highly susceptible to new ideas. There are also potions that can restore health or save someone from death.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THE POISONS WE DRINK in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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