*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Poison Song – Book 3 of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy by Jen Williams #Brainfluffbookreview #ThePoisonSongbookreview


I have thoroughly enjoyed the ongoing adventure in this excellent trilogy – read my reviews of The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins. The progression of this story, taking it from a straight epic fantasy adventure into a science fiction mash-up was masterfully handled, as are the steady revelations of new twists about aspects that we previously understood to be facts…

The very nature of the way Williams crafts her books makes it unlikely that you will be able to fully enjoy what is going on unless you read them in order – and as those of you who are regular visitors to my site know, I habitually crash midway into series without turning a hair. However, I wouldn’t want to make such a move with this series and strongly recommend that you don’t attempt it.

Jump on board a war beast or two with Vintage, Noon and Tor and return to Sarn for the last installment of this epic series where the trio must gather their forces and make a final stand against the invading Jure’lia.

And that’s the blurb. It won’t make much sense if you haven’t already read the previous books… I had thought that this final episode wouldn’t be able to deliver yet more surprises about the key figures in this full-on adventure – but I was wrong. We learn a lot more about the winnowing flame through Noon, the rebellious young fell-witch whose actions deeply affect those similarly cursed or gifted, depending on your viewpoint… And once more, Hestillion and the Queen of the Jure’lia manage to shock and repel me by their actions. I’ve grown very fond of all the characters in this adventure over the duration of this series – but for me, it’s Vintage who is my absolute favourite.

So… given that the first two books were so very good – has this finale lived up to expectations? Oh yes. Once more, we are immediately whisked right up into the middle of the action, so I’d also recommend that if you read The Bitter Twins a while ago and can’t quite recall exactly what is going on – flit back and remind yourself of who is doing what to whom – Williams doesn’t give you much breathing space before plunging you back into the thick of the plot.

In amongst all the mayhem, the recurring theme is about identity. Are we who we are because of what befalls us, or because of our genetic heritage? I was interested to note that Williams answers this question quite firmly by the end – and I was also interested to see which side of that discussion she favours. Not that the plot drifts off as this is discussed in any way – there simply isn’t room in amongst all the world-changing battles and soul-searing adventures.

As I don’t want to give away any spoilers, my comments regarding the unfolding story are necessarily vague, but I can report that the handling of the pacing, the conclusion of all the main character arcs and the climactic final battle is brilliantly done. I loved the bittersweet nature of the ending, though I was a tad devastated by the outcome regarding one of the main characters. And finished this one feeling a bit shattered, uplifted and with a lump in my throat. That doesn’t happen to me all that often, these days. But despite the fact that I have over half of 2019 still to run – I know I have just completed reading one of my outstanding reads of the year. While I obtained an arc of The Poison Song from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.

12 responses »

  1. So happy to hear that this was a stellar wrap up to the series! One of these days I’ll start at the beginning and hopefully have the same experience you did😁

    • Oh yes – I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed her writing – but l love, love, love this science fiction/fantasy mash-up, so very clever and inventive… And this finale is wonderful.

  2. My review for this will be posted soon. I thought this was a fantastic series, the final instalment probably wasn’t my favourite out of the three but I still think it’s a great way to finish – although, yes, bitter sweet too!
    Lynn 😀

    • Oh yes – but if it had been anything other than bittersweet, it would have meant she would have sold her narrative arc short. I always think she is such a brave STYLISH author:))

  3. I remember you saying that this series is much better, but whenever I see the author’s name, I can’t help remembering how disappointing was The Copper Promise to me – perhaps because I really, really wanted to love it. It seems that I won’t be checking this series any time soon since I’m still too afraid to be disappointed again.

    • Yes – and it could simply be that this author’s style doesn’t suit you. I’ve recently read a couple of books, one in particular, which I thought was shocking – and yet it had garnered a slew of 5 star reviews…

      • Her style was fine and I enjoyed it. I think it was the craft side of the book (structure, plot solutions, lack of balance, and the clear cuts between novellas) that threw me.
        And I can relate to your shock. I found that it’s common for me to be disappointed with 5-starred, acclaimed works. I tossed Emperor’s Blades, I couldn’t get into Witchmark… It’s likely the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but I’d love to be able to find books I love.

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