Book Reviews

Book Review: The Poisoner’s Ring

By Kelley Armstrong

Publication Date: May 23, 2023

346 Pages

In Book 2 of the Rip Through Time series, Mallory Atkinson is settling into life in Victorian Edinburgh.  She’s now assisting Dr. Duncan Gray as an undertaker’s assistant and in his unofficial role as a Medical Examiner.  It helps that Duncan, his sister Isla, and Detective McCreadie know her real identity – that of a 30-something 21st century detective and not a 19-year-old Victorian maid.

Only a month after Mallory’s first misadventure with the man who also fell through time, a series of poisonings sets the city into a near panic.  The killings hit closer to home when Duncan and Isla’s brother-in-law is poisoned, with their eldest sister Annis as the prime suspect.  But Mallory suspects it might be more than a case of fed-up wives getting rid of their husbands.  This could be something larger; a serial killer using a poison that is hardly known and unable to be detected in 1869.  Annis may not be likable, but that doesn’t make her a killer.  Using her modern knowledge, but constrained by 19th century social rules, Mallory needs to find the real killer and motive before Annis is hanged for a crime she might not have committed.

Kelley Armstrong is both a strong fantasy and crime mystery writer and here we have the two genres melding together with a heavy dose of historical fiction thrown in.  Honestly, I think this is my favorite series since Omens.  Despite no otherworldly beings making an appearance (although that would be the icing on the cake), this is such an interesting take on genre bending.  Just the dialogue with modern slang tossed in amongst a group of Victorians is entertaining enough.  Add to that quick pacing, a nicely woven plot, and good characterization, and I’m left with absolutely nothing to pick at.

“The Poisoner’s Ring” interpreted by Wombo Dream

Rarely do I like the second book in a series more than the first, but this read proved to be the exception to that rule.  I think it’s because Mallory’s personality was able to shine through more since her secret identity has been exposed to a core group of people and also, because her relationship with Duncan is deepening.  That leads to some really sweet feels but also a dilemma for Mallory that I’m hoping is played out in the next book: she obviously wants to go home and would do so as soon as she figures out how, but she’s beginning to have a reason to want to stay in 1869 as well.  I do hope that’s the main thrust of the third book – her decision to stay or go.  Personally, I can’t wait for it to come out.

While this book could stand alone, if you haven’t read the first in the series (you can find my review here), I recommend reading it first.  The character arcs are rather subtle but they’re there and I think they strengthen the story in this installment. I’m anticipating my heart strings getting pulled in the next one.  At least, I hope so.

 4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐+

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing the ARC ebook.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.  

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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