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Shocking tense and sharply written The Poison Garden is the gripping new novel from the international bestseller and Edgar award winning Alex MarwoodWhere Romy grew up if someone died you never spoke of them againNow 22 she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in But Romy is young pregnant and completely alone and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world she has some important lessons to learnLike how there are some people you can trust and some you must fear And about who her family really is and why her mother ran away from them all those years agoAnd that you can't walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you


10 thoughts on “The Poison Garden

  1. says:

    Alex Marwood takes the reader into the toxic tragic and unwaveringly bleak territory of the dangerous world of cults and communes as she immerses the reader into the horrors of their ways of living A multilayered narrative provides us with insights and observations of life before during and the repercussions that follow in the aftermath of the cult with its different timelines and characters A young vulnerable and pregnant Romy has been shaped by the cult and has to negotiate life after the cult isolated and alone with trust issues facing an unfamiliar world and with uestions about her family only to find the past is not that easy to leave behindIt is truly terrifying how so many will blindingly follow a charismatic leader irrespective of how insane they may be although the brainwashing does explain a lot This is a hugely unsettling shocking and uncomfortable read one which uite frankly I could not wait to shake off but this is a story that managed to get to me I did not find myself emotionally investing in any of the characters but here's the thing it is frighteningly scary just how realistic it felt mirroring and grounded in real life cults and their twisted dynamics It proves to be thought provoking and eye opening about a world I have no experience of and no desire for any it outlines with skill just how difficult cults are to walk away from This is a relentlessly haunting and monstrous read one that gave me the shudders and in my view not for the faint hearted Many thanks to Little Brown for an ARC


  2. says:

    I’m not sure this is entirely the best reading choice in the current crisis but it’s very good The police are called to Plas Golau Wales a property owned by a survivalist cult known as The Ark which is led by Lucien Blake What they find on entering the property is deeply shocking This chilling dystopian tale is partly told by pregnant Romy now in her early twenties and who has lived with the cult since she was taken there as a baby by her mother Somer Romy must now start a new life keep her unborn baby safe but there is a sinister and ambitious cult member in their Scottish Headuarters who could be even dangerous than her new life among The Dead This refers to everyone not inside the cult Romy’s aunt Sarah who is not a cult member tells her side of the story as does Somer The most unsettling aspect of the book concerns the cult and their views and it disturbingly shows how one person can control and manipulate so many as they wait for The One to lead them to survival Tensions grow as Lucien ages and there’s a terrible power struggle that they all get disastrously caught up in The book is very eerie in places it’s unsettling and there are sharp intakes of breathe so shocking are some events It’s very well written the plot is excellent the characters are portrayed clearly and it keeps you intrigued throughout I like the end which is unexpected Overall an excellent book from the talented Alex Marwood


  3. says:

    This is a novel I’ve been waiting for and it was worth every second of that wait nobody engages me with thought provoking characters and stories like Alex Marwood and The Poison Garden is tense beautiful and utterly grippingThe thing about this book is it is full of layers Romy is unforgettable and her life experience and how it defines her sets the anchor for the wider story This is a dark dark tale indeed edgy and unpredictable the cult theme expanded upon in hugely compelling ways The author manages every aspect of the drama pitch perfectly leaving you the reader feeling off kilter and concerned for the outcome as if these were real people She absorbs you into their world immediately and unrelentingly less a read a life experienceIf happy endings rainbows and kittens are your thing then this will not be for you – however if you like your reading to push the boundaries of your usual thinking if you like to see the world from a different perspective and most of all if you want those characters and tales that take you out of your comfort zone then The Poison Garden will no doubt be one of your books of the yearHighly Recommended All the way


  4. says:

    I have previously read 'The Darkest Secret' by Alex Marwood and enjoyed it a lot but for some reason I just couldn't connect with this book I love the writing style but this particular book didn't do it for meIn this story Romy escapes the cult she was raised in and the only world she has ever known But when she enters 'normal' life it does not hold the excitement you would expect Now twenty two she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in Romy is young pregnant and completely alone In a world that is completely new to her she needs to learn there are some people you can trust and others to fear I don't doubt that this book will bring a lot of entertainment to the majority of its readers but sadly not for me this time Enjoyed the writing and will read others by this author so don't be put off by me it is only my opinionI would like to thank both Net Galley Little Brown Book Group UK for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review


  5. says:

    This is the fourth novel by Alex Marwood that I’ve read I loved The Wicked Girls The Killer Next Door and the Darkest Secret and The Poison Garden does not disappoint It fascinates each of Marwood’s books is distinctive and different all excellent but if you didn’t know you’d swear they are by different authors This one is a story about a cult that very much resembles Jim Jones’s People’s Temple though located in Wales instead of Guyana It also resembles Rebecca Wait’s The Followers in both the cult is called the Ark a reminder to us that Noah was truly the first and most successful survivalist The members of the Ark community refer to all those outside their as the Dead The leader of the cult Lucien chooses mating partners for the girls when they come of age but some are especially honoured to bear his own progeny who become a kind of aristocracy within the community Just what is expected to happen to the human race at the Great Disaster is never specified whether it’s going to be ecological military or even astronomical is not revealed We discover early instead that something like the Jonestown massacre overtakes most of the cult The front story set in 2019 feature three half siblings who escaped Romy Ilo and Eden The latter two find their way to being fostered by their aunt Sarah in East Anglia where Romy eventually joins them Romy is also pregnant by Lucien Romy carries a knife and is most adept at survival skills especially dealing with rapists Ilo and Eden’s schoolmates also learn the conseuences of bullyingThe Ark community is well developed in the story Though “Everybody is No One and No One is Somebody” are the motto of the community Lucien his partner Vita an American though that plays no part of the story and some of his offspring seem to form an inner circle who actually run things Community members who run afoul with the leaders have a habit of disappearing or suffering fatal accidents In either case they are simply not mentioned again Sarah is the product of a fanatical evangelical Christian church that is virtually a cult itself whilst the Ark seems to profess some kind of neo paganism though I also sensed the suggestion that the Ark existed only to gratify Lucien and his family’s appetite for sex and power As I read The Poison Garden with a raging tooth ache I’m a bit unclear on some of the details and eager to read over parts again But for now I found the ending a bit enigmatic It seems the cult may indeed survive perhaps as they imagine as the only survivors But whatever the conclusion this is an engrossing read


  6. says:

    The Poison Garden was my first time reading a book by Alex Marwood but it definitely won't be my last Even though I ended up giving it a 35 rating I really enjoyed her writing style and so much I just couldn't bring myself to do a 4This book is almost impossible for me to wrap my head around and I had a hard time rating it so this review won't be any easier I really liked the multiple viewpoints and the dark themes but there was just something missing for me and I can't uite put my finger on it The Poison Garden has a great disturbing start but I felt slightly let down by the rest of it like it wasn't living up to the beginning Don't get me wrong though a lot of people are going to love it especially if you are a fan of books about cults Books that involve cults are a little hit or miss for me and I found myself pretty frustrated by the second half of this novel The Poison Garden is DARK and there are a couple of scenes that are downright gory so I think it is good to be aware of that I don't want to touch on too much of the plot since I think it's better not to talk about the details but I really like to see evil characters get their comeuppance in books and there just wasn't enough of that for me hereFinal Thought If you like dark books and are a fan of cults you will have to make The Poison Garden a must read I would still recommend this to a lot of people it just didn't fully hit the mark for me However I am still glad I read it and I'm very happy that Marwood is on my radar now I look forward to checking out her other books and I already put 3 on hold at the library Thank you to The Book Drop and the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book all opinions and thoughts are my own


  7. says:

    I really like Alex Marwood's style of writing and this had me hooked from the first chapter a young pregnant woman is found alive inside the grounds of a sprawling rural property owned by a cult where everyone else appears to be dead I became totally engrossed in this thought provoking character driven story I found it dark and gripping and not uite what I was expecting The characters were fascinating the differing time lines really helped to get to know them and perhaps to understand just a little why they made the choices they did The depiction of the cult felt very believable and so well written I felt as if I was there and the fact that it was a cult with no religion involved made it even interesting I've read all of Alex Marwood's books but I think this one is my favourite so far 4½ stars rounded up to 5


  8. says:

    I am a HUGE fan of Alex Marwood's previous books and was thrilled to learn she has a new book being published this month and delighted to get an early copy via Netgalley of THE POISON GARDENTHE POISON GARDEN is a real departure from the authors previous books focusing on the characters and digging deeply into cults brainwashing and the followers apocalyptic beliefs Told through the viewpoint of several main characters the story begins in Wales when two police officers are called to a scene to discover hundreds of dead bodies  This begins the multiple narrators; Sarah a divorced school administrator who has moved back into her deceased parents house and learns that her sister is one of the dead; Romy a young girl who is one of the few survivors of cult and Somer Romy's mother and Sarah's sister who was one of the followers of the cultThis is a much slower pace than her previous books but it still kept me hooked and gripped throughout  The details surrounding the cult and the brainwashing of the followers and the enigmatic leader Lucien Blake made the story plausible and realistic  There were moments and scenes which were so disturbing and uncomfortable that I had to stop and gather my thoughts before continuing on  An interesting and thought provoking story


  9. says:

    The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood is a psychological thriller First let me thank Edelweiss the publisher Penguin Books and of course the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review All opinions are my ownMy Synopsis  No major reveals but if concerned skip to My OpinionsAfter growing up in a survivalist commune 21 year old Romy is the lone adult survivor of the cult  She is alone and pregnant  Although out in the real world among people who she still deems as the Dead she finds herself ill euipped to handle certain things  She grew up being told that one of the ways the world would end would be through chemicals so simple things like using detergent to wash her clothes is a scary thought Learning to interact with the people who are sure to die when the apocalypse comes is another  But Romy is a survivor and she is sure that her child will be The One  She will do whatever it takes to protect her babyRomy has a 13 year old sister Eden and an 11 year old brother Ilo who both survived the camp and were put in foster care   Eden is one of the special children of the founder of the ARK  Romy will have to find themAlthough they've never met Romy has an aunt  Sarah was only ten when her sister Alison was kicked out of the house when she got pregnant  Shortly after Alison joined the cult and Sarah never saw her again  After her divorce Sarah moved back into the home of her deceased parents who were religious fanatics  She never thought she would return to this house  She also never thought she would be considering taking in her sisters children eitherThe uestion iswill Sarah's new family adapt to life on the outside or will Sarah follow Romy's leadMy Opinions  WOW  This was different and I really enjoyed it  Definitely Alex Marwood's best yetThe book was about the cult but it was also about family and the deep roots that both have  It is about the things you learn as a child staying with you no matter the circumstances  It is about survival and the lengths people will go to keep themselves safeThe story was told from different timelines and different points of view and it flowed smoothly allowing the plot to unfold without confusionThe characters were deep and fascinating and all of them felt very genuine  The plot although a little creepy and a lot dark also felt real and was very intense  It was sometimes a little uncomfortable and scary reading about how easily people will follow a charismatic leader  Even when they sometimes uestioned decisions and directives they didn't speak up  I often felt on edge worrying about a character's reactions and outcomeOverall the book was a very well written vividly descriptive narrative with characters that you could relate to although you didn't necessarily want to and a plot that could be taken out of the newspaperA haunting read you won't want to put down  I loved it  For a complete review of this book and others including author information and uotations please visit my blog


  10. says:

    I have always been fascinated with cults and Alex Marwood brings to life the grim reality of what it is like to live in a commune headed by a charismatic leader The story is bold and in your face and Marwood holds nothing back Every single shocking detail will completely blow you away The Poison Garden weaves the present and the past and tells the story of Romy now 22 and out in the real world after escaping the cult she spent most of her life in Romy is thrust into a world virtually unknown to her while still holding firmly to the beliefs she was taught With back and forth narrative we are brought to the past when Romy was a young girl living in the commune Plas Golau Her upbringing is not conventional to say the least and I went through a whirlwind of emotions from sadness to being angry as we learned her background history and what it was like growing up in a cult Marwood does such a great job of bringing the commune to life and showing Romy’s upbringing from the time she was young until adulthood Romy along with every other member of the commune are preparing for the end of the world They know it is coming and it has been ingrained in them since they were children They would be the saviors of the new world Romy is such a well written character but not always very likeable Even though I may not have liked her I certainly felt empathy for all that she has been through and all the lies manipulation and brainwashing she had to endure in such a short life Imagine being told over and over again about the outside world and how dangerous it is and why you should never leave the compound Once Romy is on the outside it is such a struggle for her with what she has always believed and what is actually reality Can Romy assimilate into the real world or is she already too far gone?The story in itself is simply told and mostly character driven There is not much in the way of action but the story completely messes with your mind I also could not help noticing parallels regarding faith on opposite ends of the spectrum Romy’s mother came from an overly strict religious household I may even classify her family as religious fanatics so it was really interesting to see some of the similarities and yet many differences in regards to beliefs Also Sarah Romy’s aunt in the outside world plays a really important role in the story and again the parallels are so intricately weaved into the story The ending is shocking but it also feels true to the characters and the story Definitely one of the best endings I’ve read from a story of this natureThe Poison Garden is multi layered gripping and intense What a way to start the beginning of the year than with a well written story that will remain on my keeper shelf Also the first book of the year to make it into my top reads for this year I will definitely be purchasing all of Marwoods previous books