"This Poison Heart" by Kalynn Bayron, Chapters 16–22

September 23, 2022
Following her aunt's death, Bri must learn to control her unique and deadly magical gift to conquer dark forces and protect her family.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–4, Chapters 5–8, Chapters 9–15, Chapters 16–22, Chapters 23–31
Everything smelled like freshly washed sheets and potpourri.
As for Medea, she is a tragic figure, but not someone people readily identify when they think of Greek mythology. She is more closely associated with opera or courses that examine narratives centering on the trope of the woman scorned.
Medea’s tale has been told and retold a dozen times, but always by men who seem to revel in her heinous actions without addressing what caused it.
Sometimes her story is used to showcase women as crazy, unpredictable, or vindictive.
“Ah, young love,” she said wistfully.
I have to source everything individually now. Mugwort from Alabama, rue from Georgia, sweet grass from California.
“‘Load candles’?” I asked. “What does that mean?”
She thought for a moment. “It means to imbue a candle with a specific purpose using certain oils and herbs.”
The office was cramped and sparsely decorated.
A small desk strewn with papers and file folders stood in the middle of the room.
The local news was on, and a meteorologist was warning of an impending cold front that would bring rain and wind to Rhinebeck and the surrounding areas.
“A tragedy in Rhinebeck tonight. Longtime resident Hannah Taylor was found after an exhaustive search covering most of Dutchess County, and the result was not what anyone was hoping for.”
The lacquered finish was dull in the area directly in front of the symbol, as if it had been worn away over time.
Three lines were etched deep into the wood, and a shallow divot sat directly on top of them.
Ten minutes under the dryer and the world’s fastest take down later, my hair was coifed and ready to go.
The car’s interior smelled like warm vanilla, and the upholstery was the same red as the woman’s suit.
The immaculately kept lawn looked like a sea of green carpet.
Statues dotted the landscape and I was creeped out by the way they loomed in the encroaching blackness, their marble skin reflecting the soft light from the house.
As I followed her up the wide steps to the front of the house, I heard something beyond the muffled rush of the river. Pausing, I looked in the direction of the bluff, squinting against the darkness.
A floor of mottled gray marble, inlaid with hexagonal patterns of ebony tile, was polished to a glass-like shine.
We hung a right and she led me down another long hallway lined with more creepy paintings in gold filigree frames.
“They were keeping an unfathomable secret.”
We stayed up for an hour going over everything: the library, the fancy appetizers, the fancy car, the multiple pools, and Marie’s affinity for old things.
Blankets of belladonna intertwined with wide leaves in rippling shades of black, sable, and obsidian—just as vibrant, just as prismatic as their benign counterparts.
Blankets of belladonna intertwined with wide leaves in rippling shades of black, sable, and obsidian—just as vibrant, just as prismatic as their benign counterparts.
I pushed up my glasses and crouched to read the words engraved on a rusting placard.
Near the back of the ledger was a log of names and dollar amounts, and I remembered that I was supposed to credit Lucille for the herbs she was going to pick up later.
“You can make a soap out of it. It kills mites on people and pets.”
It’s taken me a long time to produce this substance. It’s a staple of my practice but it is nearly impossible to make.
I’m not sure how long you’ve been aware of what you can do, or how deeply you’ve delved into what you’re capable of. I can assure you, however, that it is not limited to growing a garden, poison or otherwise—though that is a very useful part of it.
The viscous liquid turned over on itself, giving off a warm glow.
The doorbell rang. Mo answered it, and Karter tripped over the threshold.
I felt the familiar urge to bind myself, to be hyperaware of every single plant or tree in my immediate vicinity.
I didn’t see a marquee or a ticket window.
I still didn’t see anyone behind us but we’d slowed to thirty miles an hour and the engine kept faltering like it might stall.
“Tell me everything you can about what happened, anything you can remember. I’ll look into it discreetly for now. I’ll let you know if I find anything, but if I do, I have to let your parents know.”
The reds and oranges burned away the light and left only the smoldering darkness and draped everything around us in long shadows.
“This place is much, much older and holds the remains of families whose lineages stretch back generations.”
I squeezed through the fence and followed Marie into the thicket behind the graveyard.
An overwhelming sadness enveloped me, stole my next breath, and brought a torrent of silent tears.
I balled my hands at my sides as a chorus of groans emanated from a cluster of large willow trees behind me.

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