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The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories Hardcover – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Big Mouth House; 1 edition (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931520631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931520638
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 548,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Black spent her early years in a decaying Victorian mansion where her mother fed her a steady diet of ghost stories and faerie tales. An avid collector of rare folklore volumes and spooky dolls, she lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her husband, Theo. For more information, visit

Product Description


"Black's first story collection assures her place as a modern fantasy master.... Sly humor, vivid characters, each word perfectly chosen: These stories deserve reading again and again."--"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review) "Black (the Good Neighbors series) proves equally adept at urban fantasy and more traditional fairy tales, and her stories often feature the edgy sexuality and angst that have become her trademarks."--"Publishers Weekly" "Black's got all the supernatural bases covered: vampires, fairies, an elf, a unicorn, wolves, the devil, and a spell-wielding high school Latin club.... Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings."--"School Library Journal" "Compelling, rich and engaging."--"Bulletin of Ctr for Child Books" "Gritty, grim, and fabulous--Holly is a master of dark magic and dark reality!"--Tamora Pierce (author of "Bloodhound") "Holly Black is the Real Thing: a gifted writer with a solid grounding in what matters. Her stories are dark and splendid blooms rising from roots sunk deep in myth and tradition."--Ellen Kushner (author of "The Privilege of the Sword") "Simply put, Holly Black is one of our best writers. Enchanting and edgy, yes, but it's the big heart in her stories that brings me back to her writing, time and again. Reading a new book by Holly is like meeting up with an old friend. They might be a little messed up from the last time you saw them, they might have some serious drama going on in their lives, but the connection is immediate, and when they're packing up to head off again, you don't want to let them go."--Charles de Lint (author of "The Blue Girl") Praise for Holly Black's books: "Black's series [is] considered to have kick-started the fairy trend in young adult fantasy."--"New York Times Book Review" "Bl

About the Author

Holly Black's first novel "Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale," was published in 2002 by Simon & Schuster. "Tithe" received starred reviews from "Publishers Weekly" and "Kirkus Reviews," and was included in the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults. Holly has since written two other books in the same universe, "Valiant" and a sequel to "Tithe, New York Times" bestseller "Ironside." "Valiant" was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and received the Andre Norton Award. Holly collaborated with her long-time friend, Caldecott Award-winning artist, Tony DiTerlizzi, to create the bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles which include eight novels as well as the lavishly illustrated "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to The Fantastical World Around You, The Notebook for Fantastical Observations, " and "Care and Feeding of Sprites." The Chronicles have been translated into 32 languages and been into adapted into a major motion picture. Holly has also been a frequent contributor to anthologies, and has co-edited three: "Geektastic" (with Cecil Castellucci), "Zombies vs. Unicorns" (with Justine Larbalestier), and "Bordertown" (with Ellen Kushner). She is working on "Black Heart," the third novel in The Curse Workers series--about capers, curse magic, and memory--which follows "White Cat" and "Red Glove." Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss Victoria Ramage on 26 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
You know what I love the most about Stephen King? His short stories! So I was pretty excited to learn that Holly Black has done some, not enough Authors do them these days. The Poison Eaters is a compilation of short stories (most of which have appeared in other Anthologies), all in the fantasy genre. In here you can expect a whole host of fantasy creatures - werewolves, unicorns, elves, Vampires, the Devil and Wolverine. Yes, really, even has a cigar. The stories are quite varied too - The Poison Eaters, the last in the book, is more of a Fairy Story, a touch of romance is added in The Coat of Stars and some Fae try and get pregnant in 'Going Ironside'. The end up with a drug addiction.
I'm actually tied for what my favourite stories is. I loved the concept Paper Cuts Scissors, where you meet Wolverine and various other storybook characters, but The Poison Eaters was pretty damn good and a breathtaking ending that left me wanting more.
Of course, one major pull to buy this for a lot of Holly fans is The Land of Hearts Desire, where you get to meet the characters from Tithe again. I didn't enjoy the story as much as the others, I felt that it dragged a little. One thing I did love in this however is that there's a couple of gay relationships. Not many YA authors seem to be willing to explore this idea, sticking to what's safe but I find the ones that do are some of the best Authors.
If you read a few other Holly Black novels, throughout this you'll find a feeling f familiarity - many elements in this can be linked to books such as Tithe and Spiderwick. I hope that she'll write another short story compilation sometime, this one was amazing. Will be buying it!

Received free from Simon and Schuster to review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Linhart on 10 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is another fantastic opportunity to delve into the imagination of Holly Black, one of the best fantasy writers for young adults currently living. There are about 10 stories in all, ranging from an eating contest with the Devil to a new take on vampire lore. Holly has managed to paint an often dark but always detailed picture for her characters to inhabit, each one just right for a short story. Buy this book today!
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By kehs on 8 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of Holly Black but not of short stories. However, I discovered this collection on my daughter's bookshelves and was intrigued by it. I was sucked into the tales from the very first one and enjoyed them all. However, I do always fine myself wanting more and am never satisfied with a short story. These ones were so captivating and well written, but for me it just wasn't enough. To sum up, if you're a lover of short tales then this book will delight you, but if like me, you need a full length story I suggest you try Tithe, also by Holly Black.
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Format: Paperback
Enjoyable and imaginative read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 34 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Deep, Dark & Exquisite 6 Mar. 2010
By Steven R. McEvoy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful collection of short stories by Holly Black. The stories span everything from faeries to a girl challenging the devil to an eating contest. Holly Black's diversity as an author, and her skill, is exceedingly pleasurable to encounter. One of her characters states: "It was readers that needed to be protected, he thought. Books were something that happened to readers. Readers were the victims of books." If that is truly the case, this is a great book by which to be victimized.

The collection of stories includes:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
A Reversal of Fortune
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Night Market
The Dog King
In Vodka Veritas
The Coat of Stars
Paper Cuts Scissors
Going Inside
The Land of Heart's Desire
The Poison Eaters

Most of these stories were previously published, but there are two new stories specifically crafted for this collection. These stories have an extremely dark edge and yet a poetic and often amazing sense of what it is to be human, and an assessment of humanity. If readers can be victimized by books, then they will be by this one. It will be an addiction that they cannot put down and one that will leave them wanting another fix.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Terrible editing 1 Nov. 2011
By La Coccinelle - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wasn't blown away by any of the stories in this book, and I don't think they'll make me want to search out the author's other works. Some were entertaining and creepy and thought provoking, and fans of Holly Black or urban fantasy in general would probably find something to like.

However, if things like typos, extra words, tense switches, and stories that can't keep their characters' names straight from one paragraph to the next drive you crazy, you might want to give this one a pass. I don't think I've ever seen such bad editing, even in some of the self-published books I've read. It's even less forgivable since this is a compilation of previously published stories. It looks like nobody could be bothered to give the book a basic once-over before it went to press. That's a shame, because it makes me think the publisher doesn't care... and if they don't care enough to do a basic edit to fix the mistakes, why should I care enough to give them my money?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Collection! 31 May 2013
By Eric J. Spencley - Published on
It has been a while since I read something from Holly Black and now it seems my shelves are brimming. I have White Cat, Red Glove and I just finished Poison Eaters. It is so easy to shift back into Black's unusual quirky writings and I loved Poison Eaters. These stories featured some of my favorite characters from Black's cannon such as Roiben! Other stories I haven't seen before such as Coldtown and The Dog King. I have been in the middle of a huge reading slump for a few weeks but Black's short story collection pulled me back from the abyss. I will quickly go through each of the twelve stories in a few sentences.

--The Coldest Girl in Coldtown:
I loved this story, Coldtown is exactly the kind of place I do not want near and this story puts the scary back in vampire lore. It's not Edward waiting for you on the other side doll, it's a kick ass vamp who will lie to you this way and that for your blood.

--A Reversal of Fortune:
Oh how I wouldn't love to have an eating contest with the devil, however I am almost positive that I wouldn't have the luck or ingenuity of Nikki. Little Boo, I loved you!

--The Boy Who Cried Wolf:
This story reminds me to not take everything I read in books seriously and sometimes a great curiosity is better left alone rather than investigated.

--The Night Market:
Easily one of my favorites in this book, and it is darn hard to pick a favorite. I loved the fae in this story and I loved Black's vivid descriptions of the night market.

--The Dog King:
Take it from me kiddies this is not the one to read right before bed. It is super scary stuff and fantastically filled with lore. By far my most favorite of this collection.

This one reminded me that Black has a mind that rivals that of Gaiman and King. She bleeds humor with disturbing scenes and pulls you back for more. I love this Unicorn story.

--In Vodka Veritas:
Easily a laugh a minute I loved this one so much. The latin team decides they are sick of being losers and casts a spell on all that would be at prom to have a orgy fest and take pictures to blackmail those affected with later.

--The Coat of Stars:
What would you do if you found out your one true love didn't really die, but had been captured into a faerie circle and has been dancing the past ten years? Why get him back of course! But how?

--Paper Cuts Scissors:
Imagine you had the ability to put yourself in a book, or take characters out and let them mingle with one another. Another of my favorites.

--Going Ironside:
Another of my favorites. There is only one girl and we are thinking her thoughts, all she wants is her little elf baby. How she gets it is what is killing her.

--The Land of Heart's Desire:
Oh Roiben I still love you! You are still the sort of evil boy that would scare the hell out of me and I would want to try to save from himself. Great to see some old friends again.

--The Poison Eaters:
The last in this short story collection and a doozy. A king is remembering a night not long ago when he lost his love.

--Why Teens Will Love It:
The stories are short and fun and easily devoured during homework breaks or study hall. Black's stories are so different from the other it is like finishing twelve books at once!

--Why Adults Will Love It:
Black's work focuses on the teens here in these stories but is easily devoured by adults. The wit and dark humor Holly displays will keep us craving more of her writings for many a moon to come.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great collection of dark fantasy stories by Black 24 Mar. 2010
By Karissa Eckert - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of Holly Black's short stories. Overall it is a decent collection. It you are a huge Holly Black fan, like I am, beware that many of these stories appear in other anthologies. So, I had already read some of them. There is a nice publication history in the back of the book just in case you want to check and see which stories you may have already read.

The stories tend to be dark and follow paranormal/urban fantasy themes. Most of the stories are a bit ironic and have some sense of dark humor to them. There are a number of stories that touch on fairies, a couple that touch on werewolves, a story that deals with characters in books coming alive, one that deals with vampires, and a couple that deal with mythology. There is one story that takes place in the world that Black's Modern Tales of Fairie is in. There are twelve stories in all, they vary quite a bit in length.

I tended to like the stories towards the back of the book better. Among my favorites were: The Night Market about a girl who saves her sister from a fairy by braving the strange Night Market, Virgin a story about unicorns, The Coat of Stars a story about a costume designer fighting the fairy Queen for his lover's return, Paper Cuts Scissors at story about characters coming out of books and mingling, and The Poison Eaters a story about poisonous sisters.

There were also some stories that were a bit weak. The Land of Heart's Desire, which uses the characters from the Tithe series, wasn't the most interesting.

Overall though I enjoyed the majority of stories and am glad I read the book. It is a quick read, but if you are a Holly Black fan...or an urban fantasy fan in general you should enjoy this collection. Now I am looking forward to reading the start of Black's Curse Worker series "The White Cat".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Well-written dark fantasy/fiction for an intelligent teen audience. 19 Nov. 2013
By Erin Lesnansky - Published on
Verified Purchase
I didn't realize this was AYA lit when I bought it. That fact was evident once I began reading the first story. That said, the stories are well-written, and seem very well suited to a mature and diverse AYA audience. The stories blend dark fantasy with the kinds of issues teens are likely to struggle with: family drama, homosexuality, acceptance by society and peers, loss of loved ones.

I teach at the high school level and am now considering using one of Black's stories in my classroom.
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