Jessamine and her father Thomas live a quiet life in the ruins of Hulne Abbey spending most of their time tending to their gardens. There is one garden that it is forbidden for Jessamine to enter though - her father's poison garden where he keeps the dangerous plants he uses to make medicines. Thomas is the local apothecary and is constantly searching for new uses for his plants. One day a stranger arrives, bringing with him an orphan who is said to have an incredible knowledge of plants. Thomas takes in the orphan hoping to learn from him but Weed is determined to keep his secrets.
It is so nice to come across a book that is so different to anything I've read before, The Poison Diaries is a beautifully descriptive tale full of mystery, love and deceit. I really felt for Jessamine, her father is so wrapped up in his research that he often leaves her alone for days at a time. She isn't allowed to talk to the other villagers in case she gives away some of his secrets so her life is a lonely one. She spends her time taking care of the gardens, looking after the house and cooking for her father but although she longs for company she doesn't sit around feeling sorry for herself. She is thrilled when her father allows Weed to live with them, finally she has someone to talk to and I enjoyed watching their friendship develop.
When Weed first arrives he is nervous and withdrawn, he has never had a family and is afraid to trust Jessamine and her father. As Jessamine takes him under her wing he gradually comes out of himself and begins to trust her but is still scared to tell her his deepest secret. I'm not going to tell you what that secret is because I don't want to spoil the story for you but it added a wonderful element to the book and I was completely hooked from the moment it was revealed. The more we learn about Weed the more likable he becomes and I can't wait to get to know him better in the next installment. What I loved most about Weed and Jessamine's relationship was that it wasn't another case of instant love, the two characters spend time together and their feelings develop slowly which made their relationship so much more believable.
The setting of the story is almost a character in it's own right. It was easy to picture the ruins of Hulne Abbey and the surrounding gardens that Thomas has created and I felt like I was walking alongside Jessamine and Weed as they explored the area. From the first time they step foot in the poison garden you feel a real sense of foreboding and this only increases as you discover more about Weed's special abilities. When Jessamine falls ill Weed has no choice but to face his fears if he wants to save her but it isn't going to be easy for him. I did have a fairly good guess at part of the ending but there were quite a few twists that took me by surprise and I can't wait to see where the rest of the series takes us. If you're looking for a magical tale that is a little different from the usual paranormal stories then I would definitely recommend checking out The Poison Diaries.