Title: Poison Tongue
Author: Nash Summers
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
Category: Ghosts/Spirits, Other Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: Summers’ writing is so evocative that I could picture every single scene in my mind while I was reading Poison Tongue, which is really a must for this sort of novel.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Levi Bell can see a person’s soul just by looking into their eyes. In Monroe Poirier’s eyes, he sees the devil himself.
When Monroe moves back to the small Southern town of Malcome, Levi is repelled by the darkness of the stranger’s soul. But Levi is cursed to love things dark and wicked, and he’s seduced each time he looks into Monroe’s eyes—and drawn to the swamp behind the old Poirier house.
As strange occurrences begin to happen when shadows and visions visit him in the night, Levi sees a flicker of something good in Monroe’s soul. But the need to submerge himself in the swamp’s murky waters grows stronger as Levi’s desire for Monroe becomes unbearable.
In his struggles to help Monroe save his soul, Levi will have to decide if it’s worth losing his own.
Review: As a first time reader of Nash Summers’ work, I want to start by saying all, all, all the love for this book. And not only that, but if Poison Tongue is the benchmark, this won’t be the last time I devour this author’s books—especially if she continues to write in this sub-genre, which I’m hopeful of since this novel is subtitled Afflicted Souls. Can I get a sequel?
So, I want to start with the categories because I feel they’re just slightly off. First of all, this isn’t an Urban Fantasy. The setting is too rural to even whiff of urban, so that nitpick aside I also want to say that this book could have (should have?) been categorized as Horror. And how glorious that horror is! That alone exponentially upped the woohoo factor for me, as there’s a Goth Horror feeling to this story (Personally, I kept thinking of a The Woman in Black/The Conjuring mashup, though the stories are only similar in an aesthetic sense rather than in the plot sense, obviously), mixed as it is with the witchcraft and supernatural elements, and it is sublime. The otherworldliness coupled with the setting—think Louisiana Bayou—drew me into its haunting mysticism, and it played the perfect backdrop to the romance—of which there’s plenty—that brews between Levi and Monroe.
There’s a fantastic sympathy for the devil vibe that comes along with the deepest and darkest of temptations that Levi feels when he looks into Monroe’s eyes and sees a soul that’s black as tar and would be lost to the depths of hell—were it not for the occasional streak of golden light submersed beneath the evil that envelops Monroe. The Poirier family history is both horrific and heartbreaking, and is a burden and a curse that Monroe’s carried with him since he was just a child, and it’s the cornerstone of this story. It’s frightening and yet there’s so much sexual tension woven through it as well. Can Levi save Monroe from the evil that seeks to destroy him, or will that evil destroy Monroe and, in the process, Levi too? There was a great conflict there in the push/pull of both wanting Levi to save Monroe, but then not caring whether Levi was taken over by Monroe’s darkness just so long as they ended up together. It made me feel a little sinful, that, and I loved it.
Apart from Levi’s relationship with Monroe is his extraordinary bond with his constant and steadfast companion, Ward, who is a mystery unto himself. I can’t say much about him at the risk of spoilers, but suffice it to say that trying to decipher their relationship lent an added bit of mystery and surrealism to the plot. Round out the cast with the other principal role players: Levi’s mom and sister, and his Gran—whose significance to the story is pretty great—and the characters that populated this story elevated it all the more.
Summers’ writing is so evocative that I could picture every single scene in my mind while I was reading Poison Tongue, which is really a must for this sort of novel because it not only immerses you in the story, but it grounds you in the chilling imagery of the malicious spirit that permeates the Poirier home and the swamp that calls to Levi. I had goose bumps so many times as I made my way through this novel, more than a few moments that squicked me out in only the best way, and that was all thanks to the author’s ability to translate her own fantastic sense of the macabre into words.
You can buy Poison Tongue here: