Today dear readers is my turn on the blog tour for Botanical Curses and Poisons (Published 7 January 2021) By Fez Inkwright. A big thank you to the publishers Liminal 11 for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite, you make being a part of this community amazing.
Botanical Curses and Poisons The Shadow Lives of Plants
Discover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and malignant properties of toxic plants.
‘If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’, it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.’
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Poisonings are among the most memorable deaths in history, from the Roman Empire to the Medieval era and beyond. Concealed and deliberate, it’s a crime that must be planned in advance. And yet there is a fine line between healing and poisoning – Paracelsus argued that only the dosage matters!
In Botanical Curses and Poisons, illustrator, author, and folklorist Fez Inkwright returns to archives to uncover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and untold stories behind deadly plants, witching herbs and fungi.
Filled with beautiful illustrations, this treasury of folklore is packed with insight, lore, and the revealed mysteries of everyday flora!
Botanical Curses and Poisons is printed in hardcover with metallic foiling, a ribbon bookmark, black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, and a wealth of folklore, history and poetry about the deadly plants within! From the creator of Folk Magic and Healing (2019).
About The Author
Fez Inkwright is an illustrator, author and folklorist. Her greatest passions are botany, nature, primitive religions, and folklore, which flavour most of her work. For the past eight years she has produced work for children’s books, hand-drawn maps and tattoo design and now spends her time indulging in conservation work and writing. She lives in Bristol with two cats and several hundred bees.
What drew me to this beautiful book was not just the gorgeous cover design. But the discovery of the fascinating folklore and lurid histories of our most toxic plants, witching herbs and fungi. Complete with black and white illustrations by the author this book was a dream to indulge in. I loved spending a couple of hours a day curled up with a cuppa as I dived into the mysteries and unknown of the world of flora.
I adored reading Inkwright’s personal and insightful narrative. I felt very much a student, sitting in a lecture hall listening to the history and folklore behind deadly plants. I eagerly listened to the history of poisoning and how female followers of Dionysus (known as maenads) would intoxicate themselves by chewing on ivy leaves. This would cause madness and anger which led them into drunken rampages across the countryside attacking animals and humans. I will definitely not be chewing ivy leaves anytime soon then. I also learned about the history of wise women and witches that created a hysteria and saw an estimated 63,850 witches burned, drowned and hanged. All for having a knowledge of healing techniques with plants. It’s madness and still shocking to read today that this happened but unfortunately is a part of history.
Amongst reading about the history of poisoning and witching herbs, the main chunk of this book is taken up by the A-Z of Plants. This section taught me a lot of interesting facts and tales that I had no idea about. There was a lot of new information to take in, but once again Inkwright’s style creates a relaxing atmosphere and you feel not only intrigued and pulled in but calmed. I discovered how Daffodil bulbs contain a chemical called lycorine which if ingested causes paralysis of the central nervous system, leading to collapse and eventual death. So don’t eat them, kids. I also loved reading the folklore such as how the Norwegian legend tells of how a fairy taught foxes how to ring the bells of the Foxglove to warn each other of nearby hunters. And did you know that the juice of the Mistletoe berry is clammy and viscous and was a core ingredient in creating birdlime? This was used to capture small birds as branches coated in it were sticky enough to entrap their feet, some were even strong enough to capture hawks! It’s fascinating stuff, I greedily devoured it all and wanted more. There is so much to learn from this book, I didn’t want it to end. The more I read, the more I needed to know. I was completely sucked in to the world of botanical curses and poisons, all the while being surrounded by an intoxicating scent that kept me captivated page after page. It was bliss.
My favourite new discovery has got to be how the gummy sap of the bulbs of Bluebells can be purposed as a glue. It was once used for bookbinding as the insecticide nature of the sap would deter insects from damaging the pages. I mean, how awesome is that? This book has opened my mind to plants and their hidden deadly ways. The history behind their reputations and stories of old that span generations. To put it basically dear reader, my mind was blown.
The black and white illustrations that accompany throughout this book are breathtaking. They complete the facts and folklore of the plants. They add a certain flair that compliments Inkwright’s words and wisdom. They were a joy to look at and works of art within themselves.
I give Botanical Curses and Poisons The Shadow Lives of Plants By Fez Inkwright a Five out of Five paw rating.
I couldn’t get enough and LOVED every second. I learned so much about the history and folklore behind some of the most common plants that sit innocently in our gardens.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. I guarantee you will come away having learned something new about an everyday plant that you deemed harmless. It is not only insightful and interesting to read but you also take away a lot from it. Humans and plants have always been intertwined. We share the planet. They have strengthened us, clothed us, built shelters for us and even helped see off diseases (not to mention the odd poisoning or two along the way). We should respect them and be aware of the hidden poisons that lay beneath those beautiful petals.
I now can’t wait to dive into Folk Magic and Healing An Unusual History of Everyday Plants (Published 2 October 2019) By Fez Inkwright which was sent along with my copy of Botanical Curses and Poisons, big thank you to Liminal 11. I have a feeling I am going to love it.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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What an incredible review! Thanks so much for the blog tour support Emma x