Best Book Read in February: ARSENIC FOR TEA by Robin Stevens

Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 | 2 comments

As this post goes live I’ll be on my way to the UKYA Extravaganza — excitement!

In the last month, I read:

  • Unrest by Michelle Harrison — When I first started Unrest, I was expecting a fairly standard YA ghost story of the horror variety. I wasn’t expecting so many twists and turns and cleverness, or I would have pulled it from my TBR pile much sooner! Highly recommended.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio — A bit sickly sweet for me in places, but imagine it would be great to read with a Middle Grade age kid.
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam — This YA fantasy has been on my radar for a long time, so I was excited to finally see what all the fuss is about. A richly-envisioned world with a diverse range of characters.
  • Roses by G.R. Mannering — YA fantasy based on Beauty and the Beast, with lots of extra plot threads and world-building. The sheer richness of the language, which has an almost classic feel, blew me away. Rose will be at the Extravaganza today, so I’ll be sure to get my copy signed!
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel — Really clever and unique novel with numerous storylines set in various times, from pre-apocalyptic to post-.
  • The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury — YA fantasy, and another I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. I love twists, and this book had enough to keep me very happy.
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson — I really enjoyed the beginning of this adult classic horror, but got a bit lost towards the end. That might have been my fault though, as I was listening to it on audio while I worked, and I think it’s the kind of book you need your full attention to really ‘get’.


And my favourite book of the month:

Arsenic for teaSchoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill – and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem – and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.


I’m conscious that I’ve tweeted and generally raved about Robin Stevens’s books quite a lot, and she’s probably starting to think I’m a bit odd. But I can’t lie — Arsenic For Tea was undoubtedly my favourite read of the month. All the wit, humour and charm of Murder Most Unladylike is repeated in Arsenic For Tea, with a story that feels fresh and exciting, and an equally unguessable murder mystery.

I think what makes the Wells and Wong mysteries so special (aside from the excellent writing) is that they’re hugely enjoyable whatever age you are. Whilst I appreciate Middle Grade books, I don’t tend to devour them the way I do these. At the same time, I can imagine loving these books if I were actually ten years old (illustrated maps! eccentric adults! cake!), so Stevens has pulled off a real feat.

Plus, there is a dog in Arsenic For Tea called Toast Dog. That is all you really need to know.

What was the best book you read in February?






  1. Amazing list! I’ve just finished reading The Sin Eater’s Daughter and really loved it 🙂

    • Thank you, Ashleigh! The Sin Eater’s Daughter is excellent, isn’t it?

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