The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Keep your secret close, for your enemies are all around you…”

This wasn’t a bad book, nor was it offensive by any means, it was just way too over the top. I felt like I was reading a magical soap opera. And the twists and turns felt so forced and so unrewarding.

In this world, there are four kingdoms, but one of the kingdoms has been under quarantine for almost a decade. Ten years ago, a plague almost killed everyone, but they were able to get most of the children out, and able to give some of the people who were unable to leave an antidote that saved their lives. And it is still mandatory to take a tonic every day.

“Fireli’s Three Seclusion Rules: You must never leave the castle grounds of Fireli, or the confines of your hamlet if you live outside the castle. You must never use more than the barest of Fireli’s meager resources. You must always take your antidote.”

This story does a few flashbacks to let us know what life before the epidemic that put the kingdom on lockdown was like. And we also get to see how friends and family were separated, only able to correspond through letters. This book follows Ophelia, but we also get to see three other’s lives that impact hers.

Ophelia/Fee – The star of this book, who has spent the last ten years of her life training under her kingdoms healer, so that she can one day take over. Fee also notices that she might be doing some magical things; some on accident and some on purpose.
Xavi – The soon to be King, since he will be anointed king on his next birthday. Also, he suffers from chronic illness that makes him fatigued frequently.
Quinn – The Princess who is promised to Xavi. Her mother is queen of one of the other three kingdoms.
Rye – Prince, and Xavi’s brother, who is promised to Fee. He hasn’t seen Fee or Xavi for the last decade.

“For the last ten years, Fireli had been caught in a time warp where every day had been the same. They needed change—craved change. They were on the brink of it.”

And Fee and Xavi are going to see Quinn and Rye for the first time in ten years. Yet, when Quinn makes it to the kingdom first, Xavi’s health takes a turn for the worst. Fee and the healer who she has been training under are unable to heal him. But they soon realize that this is a personal attack, maybe after the profit that is in the mines that have been closed from operation for the last decade, and the only way to solve who is behind it is to play along.

Oh, and the witches, or magic users, in this world are sentenced to death! So, Fee needs to be extra careful on her quest to heal Xavi, while also figuring out who she is and what she is able to do! This is when the twists and turns get so over the top that you will be side eyeing the entire time while reading. When I said this reads like a magical soap opera, I truly wasn’t kidding.

“Sometimes the answers are right in front of us, child. For that is the best place to hide secrets.”

And like a lot of things in this book, the romance was so forced. Like, I was totally on board with the arranged marriages, but it was like the author had to prove that the couplings were in love, too, for no reason. Especially with Fee and Rye and how their first meeting went after they haven’t seen each other since they were eight and ten, a decade ago.

I know this review is short, but the book also feels short while reading. I feel like there is nothing else to say, sadly. This book was just completely not for me and my reading tastes. It felt and read very beginner level YA fantasy, for me. But I hope that if you pick it up that you will enjoy it more than I did. Happy reading, friends.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for plague epidemic, loss of a loved one, murder, death, captivity, brief self-harm that draws blood, a fatphobic conversation in chapter 11, racism (a theme of “mixed blood” not being okay), and war themes.

Buddy read with Candance at Literary Dust, Jules at JA Ironside, & Kayla, at Books and Blends! ❤

12 thoughts on “The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

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