This month’s LSH challenge was to read a book with a drink on the cover, which turned out to be so much more difficult than I was expecting! After about an hour at the library, the only books I could find that fit the theme were all vampire books with blood on them – and I could hardly pick one of those after the joke I made about it on the challenge thread! Luckily I chanced upon something else, just before the library closed, and I think it kind of fits… potions are drinkable, after all. 😉
THE POTION DIARIES
In an attempt to gain some kind of control over her own future, Princess Evelyn of Nova decides to create a very illegal love potion, and use it to dose her best friend, Zain. Unfortunately for her, a mix-up of cups means that Evelyn is the one who actually drinks the potion, and she falls madly in love with her own reflection… prompting a contest between all Nova’s potion-makers to find a cure. Sam – our main character – is one of those potion-makers, along with Zain Aster, and the King of Nova’s exiled sister Emilia, who hopes to take advantage of the princess’ condition and seize the throne for herself.
I went into The Potion Diaries assuming that it would be a lighthearted, fluffy story, with an interesting modern-day-but-magical backdrop, and it definitely lived up to that expectation… which was not a bad thing in and of itself; it was a fun book, and I enjoyed reading it. On the other hand, I did find myself disappointed that it never seemed to make an effort to be anything more than that. The story was remarkably linear, and I spent a great deal of the book waiting for a dramatic twist that never came. Sam did, of course, suffer a lot of set-backs in the contest (called a Wilde Hunt), but all of them were overcome fairly quickly and easily, usually with the power of a spontaneous eureka moment on Sam’s part, which didn’t always make the most sense…
But my main gripe with this book was actually the potion-making itself. It makes sense to me that you’d need to recreate the love potion first, before being able to start working on a cure (my expectations of magical medicine were shaped primarily by The Healing in the Vine by Tamora Pierce – a great book, by the way), so I didn’t notice this problem straight away, but… how on earth is dosing Evelyn with another love potion supposed to help?! Wouldn’t it just make her fall obsessively in love with someone else? I was able to suspend my disbelief for a lot of the book, but the clearer it became that there wasn’t going to be a secondary, trying-to-create-an-atidote phase to the Wilde Hunt, the less immersed in the story I felt.
In terms of characters, I liked Sam, but never felt particularly connected to her, Zain made for an unobjectionable but ultimately bland love interest, and Emilia was clichéd and unthreatening as the book’s main villain. The most interesting character was probably actually Evelyn, whose perspective we saw from time to time as she fell deeper and deeper into the haze that the love potion created, but since the only version of Evelyn we were shown was this besotted one, it’s not really an indication that she’ll remain interesting as the series goes on.
Overall – as I’ve already said – this was a fun book with an interesting setting and premise that it didn’t really use to its full potential, and from what I’ve seen, the sequel looks like it’ll be telling a very similar story… I enjoyed reading this, but I doubt I’ll be continuing on with the series.
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