Review: A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

A Drop of VenomA Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A Drop of Venom is a recent YA Fantasy release pitched as a retelling of the Medusa myth, steeped in Indian mythology, and happily, it is exactly that.

This story follows 16-year old, Manisha, whose naga people have seen their lives decimated because of the King’s army. Manisha was sent to a holy temple to become a priestess, where it was believed she would be safe.

But for girls, there’s rarely any place that is actually safe.

We also follow 17-year old, Pratyush, who is a Monster Slayer and one of the greatest assets of the King. Yes, the very same King who has terrorized Manisha’s people.

When Pratyush and Manisha meet when he visits the Temple, sparks fly and both see in each other a glimpse of the peaceful life that could be possible. Unfortunately, for them both, fortune is not on their side.

Before their relationship even has a chance to get off the ground, tragedy strikes Manisha. A visitor to the temple, a General in the King’s army, brutally rapes her and throws her off the side of the mountain into a churning den of vipers, where he expects her to die.

But she doesn’t die. In fact, she rises, stronger than ever, with a new set of unimaginable powers.

Pratyush’s next assignment leads him on a hunt for a hideous monster said to be killing and maiming men in the countryside. Little does he know this very monster is actually the girl he wishes to someday marry.

I liked this story, I did. Please don’t let my 3.5-star rating discourage you. Patel’s writing is strong and I appreciate the tough topics that she examined, as well as the rich cultural influences that gave such depth and beauty to this tale.

I loved the idea of a Medusa retelling and I loved watching Manisha regain her strength, power and new courage as the story got farther along.

For me though, I did have a bit of an uneven reading experience with this one overall. There were times I was so into it and then other times when I was bored. There’s no better way to explain it.

Additionally, at times I did find some of the plot elements difficult to track, and definitely felt the second half was stronger than the start. Also, I wasn’t completely sold on the alternating perspectives.

We’re mostly getting the story from Manisha’s POV, so when we would randomly switch to Pratyush, I didn’t care about him. I didn’t feel like I had the chance to get to know him in the way that I got to know Manisha, so I sort of felt like it either should have been more equal in their narrative time, or he shouldn’t have been a perspective we read from at all.

I think I may actually have enjoyed this more if we just had Manisha’s perspective.

With this being said, even though I have some slight nit-picky things I wasn’t crazy about, this is still a good book. It actually seems like the kind of story, that if you’re the right Reader, and you read it at the right time, it could be incredibly powerful for you.

I can see that potential. This is a solid Fantasy story, with strong world creation and compelling ideas. I am definitely interested in reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents and Disney Audio for providing me with copies to read and review. This definitely won’t be my last Sajni Patel!

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