The Poison Garden
Shocking, tense and sharply written, The Poison Garden is the gripping new novel from the international bestseller and Edgar award-winning Alex Marwood.Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.Now 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 learn.Like 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 ago.And that you can't walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you...

The Poison Garden Details

TitleThe Poison Garden
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 14th, 2020
PublisherPenguin Books
ISBN-139780143110521
Rating
GenreFiction, Thriller, Mystery

The Poison Garden Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 questions about her family, only to find the past is not that easy to leave behind.It 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 quite 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.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    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 gripping.The 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 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 gripping.The 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 more a life experience.If 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 year.Highly Recommended. All the way.
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    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 me.In 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, 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 me.In 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 opinion.I 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.
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  • Indieflower
    January 1, 1970
    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 quite what I was expecting. The characters were fascinating, the differing time lines really helped to get to know them and perhaps to understand 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 quite 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 more 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.
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  • Tracy Fenton
    January 1, 1970
    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 GARDEN.THE POISON GARDEN is a real departure from the authors previous books focusing more 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 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 GARDEN.THE POISON GARDEN is a real departure from the authors previous books focusing more 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 cult.This 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.
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  • Bill Kupersmith
    January 1, 1970
    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: 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 consequences of bullying.The 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.
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  • gem
    January 1, 1970
    I love Alex Marwood’s books, I’ve been a fan since reading The Wicked Girls and with each book she offers an insight into some kind of dark and twisted world.Within The Poison Garden we are forced to confront the controversial issue of cults, communes, and how they treat each other and how they view the outside world.Differing time lines allow us to see the story from varying perspectives and I loved that. I really liked Sarah and Romy but wasn’t too fussed about the others.It’s difficult to say I love Alex Marwood’s books, I’ve been a fan since reading The Wicked Girls and with each book she offers an insight into some kind of dark and twisted world.Within The Poison Garden we are forced to confront the controversial issue of cults, communes, and how they treat each other and how they view the outside world.Differing time lines allow us to see the story from varying perspectives and I loved that. I really liked Sarah and Romy but wasn’t too fussed about the others.It’s difficult to say much about this without giving away any spoilers, but suffice to say it’s sometimes uncomfortable reading because it’s so plausible that this kind of brainwashing/radicalising behaviour is happening... but that just makes it even more believable and unputdownable.Yet another hit! Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this.
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  • Helen Carolan
    January 1, 1970
    Another excellent read from Ms Marwood. The members of a cult are fond dead in Wales but there have been some survivors. When Sarah learns that her sisters children are still alive she agrees to have them live with her. But the children struggle to adapt to life outside the cult and may have a hidden agenda which may not involve Sarah. Eerie read and terrific.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    Cult fiction is salaciously interesting; there’s so much curiosity into this evergreen fascination.The Poison Garden offers different points of view in cascading timelines- we see within their communal life, as well as when they’re forced to live amongst the dead- love the way she built the character’s perceptions toward both realities. A hauntingly compulsive read, with Marwood’s dark signature storytelling.Galley borrowed from the publisher.
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  • Clare
    January 1, 1970
    With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.I have enjoyed all Alex Marwood`s books so I was excited to read The Poison Garden. The prologue started when the police were called to The Ark, a large commune set in the countryside. Within the commune the dead bodies of adults and students were found lying on the ground.When the police arrived they found twenty two year old Romy was found in the commune `hospital. She was heavily pregnant and had With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.I have enjoyed all Alex Marwood`s books so I was excited to read The Poison Garden. The prologue started when the police were called to The Ark, a large commune set in the countryside. Within the commune the dead bodies of adults and students were found lying on the ground.When the police arrived they found twenty two year old Romy was found in the commune `hospital. She was heavily pregnant and had `serious legs injuries. After recuperating in hospital and then rehab she was released. Romy had two younger siblings called Eden and Llo and longed to be reunited with them.Eden and Llo were being look after by their Aunt Sarah who was their mother Somer`s sister. Sarah was lonely after the breakup of her marriage and was not sure she could be responsible for two children.A lot more happens in this book and I don't want to give any spoilers. The plot was told from the POV of Romy, Helen and Somer. I enjoyed reading about philosophy of the cult. It was amazing that a group of adults believed Lucien no matter how charismatic he was. I enjoyed reading about Romy`s reaction to living in the modern world with the dead. Her reaction to Jerk chicken was fabulous.I didn't particularly like Eden but I loved Llo. If you have read Alex Marwood`s previous books I would say The Poison Garden is completely different. If I knew the plot of the book I would never of picked it up.Overall this was not a bad read, however the ending was extremely disappointing.
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  • peggy
    January 1, 1970
    I know very little about cults and their beliefs, this book certainly opened my eyes. Toxic and darn right scary. A survivalist cult is always preparing for the end of the world. Now imagine what would happen if someone decides to give it a helping hand. This book is beautifully written and so easy to get into. I really did not want this book to end. This read had me gripped from the first page and spent most of my time sat on the edge of my seat and tapping my kindle faster. I like the way the I know very little about cults and their beliefs, this book certainly opened my eyes. Toxic and darn right scary. A survivalist cult is always preparing for the end of the world. Now imagine what would happen if someone decides to give it a helping hand. This book is beautifully written and so easy to get into. I really did not want this book to end. This read had me gripped from the first page and spent most of my time sat on the edge of my seat and tapping my kindle faster. I like the way the main characters are each given a chapter and the storyline was gripping and multi layered.I really hope that there is a sequel as I have so many questions. A new author for me and I am so impressed by her storytelling I have downloaded the rest of her books and this lady has just made MY MUST READ LIST. An easy five stars and so Highly Recommended. I would like to thank the author, Little Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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  • Karen R.
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book....I love Alex Marwood’s books, and am a sucker for anything involving cults. So this book was a slam dunk. When Romy escapes the cult she was raised in, we expect her to become enthralled with the new world she was kept from her whole live. But she surprises us, and you are left wondering how someone makes the choices they do. Is it ingrained in them, or free will? While I wished the book evolved a bit more at the end, that may be because I can’t wrap my head around certain I enjoyed this book....I love Alex Marwood’s books, and am a sucker for anything involving cults. So this book was a slam dunk. When Romy escapes the cult she was raised in, we expect her to become enthralled with the new world she was kept from her whole live. But she surprises us, and you are left wondering how someone makes the choices they do. Is it ingrained in them, or free will? While I wished the book evolved a bit more at the end, that may be because I can’t wrap my head around certain lifestyles. An engrossing story
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    When Alex Marwood writes I don't feel as though I'm reading a book. I feel as though I'm living it. “The Poison Garden” is no exception. This is my most eagerly anticipated novel of the year and wow! It's even better than I expected. Marwood manages to create characters who evoke empathy as much as they are deeply unlikeable, and the weaving together of their stories leaves the reader with a sense of dark fascination. “The Poison Garden” shines a spotlight on a world alien to most of us and When Alex Marwood writes I don't feel as though I'm reading a book. I feel as though I'm living it. “The Poison Garden” is no exception. This is my most eagerly anticipated novel of the year and wow! It's even better than I expected. Marwood manages to create characters who evoke empathy as much as they are deeply unlikeable, and the weaving  together of their stories leaves the reader with a sense of dark fascination. “The Poison Garden” shines a spotlight on a world alien to most of us and stays with you long after the final page has been turned. Brilliant stuff!
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  • Rachel Bridgeman
    January 1, 1970
    I have to be extremely careful to avoid spoilers here as this is a book I would want as many lovers of thrillers, dark suspense and horror to read without knowing where they are going.After escaping the Plas Golau cult, Romy(who has lived there since she was 8 months old) has to adapt to modern life, without her family around her. The way that the modern world is viewed through her eyes after being embedded into a very strict caste structure with defined roles and ways of behaving that do not I have to be extremely careful to avoid spoilers here as this is a book I would want as many lovers of thrillers, dark suspense and horror to read without knowing where they are going.After escaping the Plas Golau cult, Romy(who has lived there since she was 8 months old) has to adapt to modern life, without her family around her. The way that the modern world is viewed through her eyes after being embedded into a very strict caste structure with defined roles and ways of behaving that do not gel with current mores,is absolutely fascinating and so detailed.Run by magnetic figurehead Lucien, this is an end of days cult where they are known by their nearest neighbours as 'survivalist types' who are awaiting the arrival of 'The One' who will see them through the End Times. They regard those outside the cult as 'The Dead' in that their lives are doomed and pointless, they are to be pitied for being so susceptible to the luxuries they expect and are seduced by whislt those in the cult grow their own crops, slaughter their own animals, bury their own dead.The things that you take for granted-making tea, a bath to yourself, jerk chicken-are completley new experiences to her, as is the availability of medicine. Romy's mother, Somer, was in charge of the physic garden so any remedy, and also poison, was very important for all those in the cult to recognise from a very early age.Somer, renamed from her birth name of Alison,ran away from home herself after finding herself pregnant and rejected by her highly religious parents, themselves the descendants of an organisation called the Federation who preached that Jesus would return to Earth and more specifically, Finbrough where they have built a house for His Holy Homecoming.Alison and younger sister Sarah have grown up inside this environment, learning that things like free will, are pointless when the path of your life is so set and determined.When Romy is in the real world, our world, Sarah is on the edge of divorce from husband Liam,childless and reduced to living in her parent's old home, frowned upon by dust laden family portraits, scolded by the dead and rejected by the living.''Liam said that there was something wrong with her.Women cry,he told her.It's what they do.His little girlfriend cried all the time, she's sure of it.Cried to display her womanhood,cried to persuade him that his wife had no emotions.But,if your early training teaches you that tears bring penalties,you learn not to show them unless you're alone.''As a legally recognised adult, Romy is given a flat of her own after being deemed safe to live alone, despite not being assessed by any psych teams specialising in cults. But she is not the only one who has escaped. Her younger siblings Ilo and Eden have been given into Sarah's custody, and the contrast between them and how they work towards finding each other is disturbingly heartwarming.Because these are not functional children, this is not a functional adult and all of them are hiding a an earth shattering secret...Suspenseful, twisted, dark and deliciously funny in parts (the rewording of Gloria Gaynor's classic anthem of liberation is a master stroke!)this is a standout novel for me. Not for the faint hearted, there are scenes that might upset more delicate stomachs, but it is Alex Marwood's best novel yet. It alternates between now, and then, with Romy and Somer/Alison's narratives of life in, and growing up in the cult with Sarah's story now, and Romy's post cult life.In this humble reader's opinion, I read it as 'The Posion Garden' as an allegory between nature and nurture-the mushrooms you grow in a garden might all look identical, but some could absolutly leave you bleeding from every orifice and dying horrifically.The notion of family,what leaves you to accept or reject one form of family for another and then the subsequent choices that you make as an adult, creating your own, are keenly felt as well as the issue of self determination and free will.How far can it bend before you break?Is the modern world on  a path to destruction and is opting out ever a viable option?Does believing in a power higher than yourself mean you are condemned to a physically impoverished life on earth? What is the nature of hope and happiness?All of this is what I was left mulling over after finishing 'The Poison Garden', it was deeply affecting, thought provoking and an intense read which I thoroughly recommend without hesitation to those who love a novel of suspense, pshychological thrillers and mysteries.It's chilling and one I would re-read again, same as her other books. She excels at picking up the rock of human behaviour, poking the pale grubs of life that stir underneath, and exposing them to the sun. Excellent, thought provoking stuff.
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  • Gulnaz
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve really enjoyed Alex Marwood’s previous novels like The Darkest Secret so was really excited to read this especially learning that it’s about cults, a topic that intrigues me. The book opens with a scene in Wales where two officers have been called down by a farmer because of a strange, putrid smell coming from his neighbours: a private and secluded farm. The officers break through and find a river of dead bodies...The story then breaks into 3 narrative strands:* Sarah is a 31-year old I’ve really enjoyed Alex Marwood’s previous novels like The Darkest Secret so was really excited to read this especially learning that it’s about cults, a topic that intrigues me. The book opens with a scene in Wales where two officers have been called down by a farmer because of a strange, putrid smell coming from his neighbours: a private and secluded farm. The officers break through and find a river of dead bodies...The story then breaks into 3 narrative strands:* Sarah is a 31-year old divorcee who had moved back to her parent’s house in Finborough after their death three years ago and works as a school administrator. When news about this cult breaks in the media she’s contacted by social services. Her older sister, Michelle (later renamed Somer) who was thrown out of the house by their strict Christian parents after discovering she was pregnant as a teenager was a member of the cult and has two adolescent children. As next of kin Sarah faces the dilemma of being their guardian. * Present day Romy. Romy is twenty-years old and one of the surviving few members of the cult. She’s also Somer’s daughter. We see her try to assimilate to this new world while keeping her pregnancy a secret and going through with a surreptitious task.* Past day Romy and Somer. Here we learn more about the cult and how it worked.My favourite parts of the story was the present day arc. I loved seeing how the characters struggled with cognitive dissonance, how Sarah dealt with her guilt over how her sister was treated and how she tries to put aside the feeling of ‘otherness’ when she meets her niece and nephew in attempt to understand what they’ve been through. I also found Romy to be an engaging and intriguing character, and kept wondering what she was up to. My least favourite parts was cult sections. I think for me personally I’ve just read so many psychological suspense novels that look at cults and have done it better. I wanted more of an explanation on how the cult started, how was it being financed, and what are their underlying beliefs. I understood that they were a survivalist cult obsessed with the inevitable apocalypse. For me there just wasn’t any emotional or psychological involvement, and I found Lucien’s and Uri’s characterisation really wooden and one-dimension. Also plot-wise I found this section predictable. On the whole this was an immersive read on how survivors from cult struggle to assimilate and a character driven book. However this isn’t your usual mystery/thriller which makes this book for me hard to define. This is a pacy, Psychological drama with suspense elements. 3.5/5
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  • Sarah Stone
    January 1, 1970
    The Poison Garden was amazing, unputdownable, disturbing, and heart wrenching. I think I experienced every range of emotion throughout the book. I could not fathom how Romy, Ilo, and Eden physically and mentally survived the day their lives changed forever. As they recovered from the fall of the Ark, the reader journey's through how the Ark came to be. Next of kin is contacted to care for Ilo and Eden. Their aunt Sarah takes over as caregiver and is a combination of genuine good nature and a The Poison Garden was amazing, unputdownable, disturbing, and heart wrenching. I think I experienced every range of emotion throughout the book. I could not fathom how Romy, Ilo, and Eden physically and mentally survived the day their lives changed forever. As they recovered from the fall of the Ark, the reader journey's through how the Ark came to be. Next of kin is contacted to care for Ilo and Eden. Their aunt Sarah takes over as caregiver and is a combination of genuine good nature and a literal inability to parent. More and more details of The Ark continually unfold and the ending will leave you shocked. A note to Berkley Press: sequel because I MUST KNOW MORE. As a bookseller, I cannot wait to share The Poison Garden with patron of The Twig Book Shop.
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  • Deborah
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting book. Interesting and frustrating in some ways. It's a reminder though that we all have our beliefs... ones we assume to be the correct. We're often raised with these beliefs so don't question their veracity. It's a given (for us) that it's others who are wrong. Particularly if THEIR beliefs seem diametrically opposed. This book opens as police officers come across bodies of members of a cult. Oops... sorry, SPOILER!Mistakenly I'd assumed we were going to be spending time This is an interesting book. Interesting and frustrating in some ways. It's a reminder though that we all have our beliefs... ones we assume to be the correct. We're often raised with these beliefs so don't question their veracity. It's a given (for us) that it's others who are wrong. Particularly if THEIR beliefs seem diametrically opposed.  This book opens as police officers come across bodies of members of a cult. Oops... sorry, SPOILER!Mistakenly I'd assumed we were going to be spending time with the police officer we meet in the opening pages but she disappears as the story of the survivors of Plaus Golau starts.Read my review here: https://www.debbish.com/books-literat...
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I read the overview of this book and it mentions a cult that was me hooked !! I have always had a big fascination for reading about cults and this book was brilliant, told in two timelines and from different points of view it draws you in with its descriptions of life in the cult and to life after and the horrific consequences of being brainwashed by fear. In a lot of ways this is a sad read but at the same time very compelling and difficult to say more as I think this is a book that As soon as I read the overview of this book and it mentions a cult that was me hooked !! I have always had a big fascination for reading about cults and this book was brilliant, told in two timelines and from different points of view it draws you in with its descriptions of life in the cult and to life after and the horrific consequences of being brainwashed by fear. In a lot of ways this is a sad read but at the same time very compelling and difficult to say more as I think this is a book that should just be read without knowing too much.It’s wonderfully written with a well crafted storyline and the characters very believable and a 4 star read for me and also well recommended, my thanks to Alex Marwood for a superb story.My thanks also to NetGalley and Little,Brown book group UK for giving me the chance to read the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Emma Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    "None of us will be the same, by tomorrow, she thinks."Two police officers are called out to investigate an awful smell on a farm by a neighbour: a seemingly innocuous call that gives them no warning of the life-changing and terrible sight they’re about to discover: lifeless bodies piled one on top of each other, frozen in death as they tried to flee. All the adult members of the Ark, the cult that lived on the farm, are dead apart from Romy who was in the infirmary unable to walk, listening "None of us will be the same, by tomorrow, she thinks."Two police officers are called out to investigate an awful smell on a farm by a neighbour: a seemingly innocuous call that gives them no warning of the life-changing and terrible sight they’re about to discover: lifeless bodies piled one on top of each other, frozen in death as they tried to flee. All the adult members of the Ark, the cult that lived on the farm, are dead apart from Romy who was in the infirmary unable to walk, listening helplessly as her family died in agony. This book had me hooked from it’s chilling first chapter and kept me guessing until the final page. The story unfolded in a way I didn’t expect, but I loved.The choice to have Romy and her Aunt Sarah narrate offered us very different perspectives on events happening in the book and the world in general. Through the use of flashbacks to their childhoods we learn that these very different women actually have a lot more in common than first meets the eye. “How do you explain, to someone who didn’t live it?”Romy was a baby when her teenage mother, Alison, joined the Ark. She’s known nothing else but their strange, isolated lifestyle that consisted of preparing for the Apocalypse and living off the land while following the teachings of their Father, Lucien. She’s been taught to fear the outside world and those who inhabit it, known to her as the Dead. She sees danger and disaster all around her and is too terrified to leave her flat unless absolutely necessary. We soon learn that Romy is hiding secrets bigger than her fear of life outside the Ark and that there might be more to her story than it first seemed. I really liked how her character was written, especially the fears that she’d been indoctrinated to have. A lot of these fears were of real things that can or have happened, it’s just she’s been taught to see them as a sign of the world’s doom and depravity instead of accidents or evil done by a small few. It highlights how a small change in perception can completely alter our world view and it was fascinating to see the way we live through the eyes of people that had grown up totally removed from our society. This wasn’t the first time I’ve read a book by this author, but it is a number of years since I did, and I will certainly be catching up on any others I’ve missed. The writing in this novel is riveting, harrowing and heart-rending. The pace quickened as the story went on and had me on the edge of my seat, the revelations increasingly jarring as we approached the dramatic and chilling finale. The Poison Garden is a multilayered, twisty thriller full of secrets and interesting characters that will delight and surprise lovers of psychological thrillers and mysteries. Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Alex Marwood for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Rachel Sargeant
    January 1, 1970
    Although the author’s previous novels were psychological thrillers that didn’t shy away from graphic and visceral detail, The Poison Garden is even harder hitting as well as more literary. You know you’re in for a disturbing read when an apparently stereotypical police procedural prologue descends into a scene reminiscent of the Allies entering a concentration camp at the end of the Second World War.After the prologue, the main narrator is Romy, the sole adult survivor of a cult that lived on a Although the author’s previous novels were psychological thrillers that didn’t shy away from graphic and visceral detail, The Poison Garden is even harder hitting as well as more literary. You know you’re in for a disturbing read when an apparently stereotypical police procedural prologue descends into a scene reminiscent of the Allies entering a concentration camp at the end of the Second World War.After the prologue, the main narrator is Romy, the sole adult survivor of a cult that lived on a farming estate in Wales. Following psychiatric care, she’s resettled by Social Services in a flat in London. Romy is oddly streetwise and astutely observant. (And an ace car driver.) Her humour is hard and cynical. She’s also secretive and has her own agenda. As her narrative progresses, there’s a real sense that a ticking time bomb has been activated.Her timeline alternates between present day and her years in Wales where we also hear from her mother, Alison, renamed Somer. As is often the case, women don’t fare particularly well in the cult and the leader sets its doctrine to suit himself. There was something of The Handmaid’s Tale in the dystopian atmosphere created, and a pinch of The Hunger Games which carried through to Romy’s resourcefulness in the outside world. The third narrator is Romy’s aunt, Sarah. She finds herself appointed guardian to Romy’s half-siblings who also survived the cult. An unreadable pair of children with a touch of The Midwich Cuckoos about them.Sarah is a survivor in her own way. Her parents were leaders of a devout Christian order, The Congregation. Her rebellious sister, Alison – Romy’s mother – fled the constraints of her childhood home and ended up in the cult. Sarah stayed behind. She is unsure of herself, but also gifted with the same hard, cynical humour as her niece, Romy.Alex Marwood skilfully builds the suspense in these separate narratives until they explode. Unsettling, with much to say on the theme of indoctrination – before, during and after, if indeed “after” exists.
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  • Aoife
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up.Three refugees from a cult find themselves struggling to stay adrift in a strange new world.The world is definitely coming to an end sometime soon, and only the members of the Ark and her sister compound will survive. Romy has spent almost all her life in the Ark, and her half siblings have grown up there, knowing nothing about the world outside. When disaster strikes and most of the members are poisoned, these three must find a way to live in a brand new world without being 3.5 rounded up.Three refugees from a cult find themselves struggling to stay adrift in a strange new world.The world is definitely coming to an end sometime soon, and only the members of the Ark and her sister compound will survive. Romy has spent almost all her life in the Ark, and her half siblings have grown up there, knowing nothing about the world outside. When disaster strikes and most of the members are poisoned, these three must find a way to live in a brand new world without being destroyed by it.I've read quite a few novels about cults; it's something I'm very interested in. I've rarely read one where the main character wants back in so strongly. Almost all cult novels are written from the point of view of someone who has realised how wrong things are, or realises during the narrative. It's very rare to read one where, despite recognising the luxuries without and the tortures within, they still want to return. It gave me a very creepy feeling.The characters were slightly thin. Romy is desperate to protect her baby and Ilo is desperate to protect Eden because...they are? There's a suggestion that Romy might want her baby to take over from Uri, but that's between the lines, not explicit. Sarah fell in line very quickly, too.I did really love the line where Romy calmly explains that of course she doesn't have survivor's guilt, the whole point of her upbringing was to teach her to survive, she did better than anyone else!All in all, a good, creepy read with an unusual take on cults, but could be better.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I’m always excited by Alex Marwood books – she addresses difficult issues sympathetically but unflinchingly. The book is about cults and belief systems, and the toxic effect they can have on people and relationships.It opens with a gruesome discovery on a remote farm in Wales, when a group of people having been living a communal life, cut off from the outside world, for many years.Romy is a survivor of this apocalyptic cult who is brought to live among the Dead (the rest of us, who won’t survive I’m always excited by Alex Marwood books – she addresses difficult issues sympathetically but unflinchingly. The book is about cults and belief systems, and the toxic effect they can have on people and relationships.It opens with a gruesome discovery on a remote farm in Wales, when a group of people having been living a communal life, cut off from the outside world, for many years.Romy is a survivor of this apocalyptic cult who is brought to live among the Dead (the rest of us, who won’t survive the apocalypse).Her mother Alison/Somer was brought up in a very strict Christian family who believed that Jesus was going to return to live with them, and she was disowned by her family when she became pregnant.The timeline switches between earlier times in the commune, and after the break-up, and the story of how charismatic characters can brainwash vulnerable people, and children is truly chilling.Also, how power can corrupt and change those who wield it, or want to wield it, and how all forms of organised religion can be misused.The story races along to a shocking, but inevitable conclusion, and remains with you - as with all her books, I want to know what happens next!The sign of a good book! Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Book group UK for the opportunity to read this book.
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  • 4rachel
    January 1, 1970
    The Poison Garden grabs you from page 1 .A shocking discovery is made -of what appears to be a Jones like mass suicide in and around the grounds of the head quarters of a cult in rural Wales. Their main purpose was to prepare for the Apocalypse under the watchful eye of their leader - Lucien The story is then told from 3 perspectives - Romy one of the survivors - who knows hardly anything about life outside the cult - Somer her mother - and Sarah -Somer's younger sister . This was my first Alex The Poison Garden grabs you from page 1 .A shocking discovery is made -of what appears to be a Jones like mass suicide in and around the grounds of the head quarters of a cult in rural Wales. Their main purpose was to prepare for the Apocalypse under the watchful eye of their leader - Lucien The story is then told from 3 perspectives - Romy one of the survivors - who knows hardly anything about life outside the cult - Somer her mother - and Sarah -Somer's younger sister . This was my first Alex Marwood novel and won't be my last - great story -well written Thank you Netgalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review !
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  • Claire Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood is a gripping thriller that I couldn't put down. When Romy escapes the cult she grew up in, she relies on the support of social workers on the outside world. But Romy is keeping a secret. 4 stars
  • Andrea Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Little Brown Group, Alex Marwood and Net Galley for my ARC.Thoroughly shocking and actually believable. because it could and does happen. This exploration of a cult and the brainwashing of its followers is harrowing. When the survivors made it into the 'real' world it's tempting to believe they have a chance of redemption but the children raised within its confines are nurtured to believe that the rules they follow are the only correct ones. I wasn't expecting the killing spree, and Thank you to Little Brown Group, Alex Marwood and Net Galley for my ARC.Thoroughly shocking and actually believable. because it could and does happen. This exploration of a cult and the brainwashing of its followers is harrowing. When the survivors made it into the 'real' world it's tempting to believe they have a chance of redemption but the children raised within its confines are nurtured to believe that the rules they follow are the only correct ones. I wasn't expecting the killing spree, and I found it quite shocking, but I understood the part it played within the story. Another fine piece of writing by Alex Marwood.
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  • MarmottanReads
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve read all of Alex Marwood’s excellent books and this one does not disappoint. I’m very stingy with my stars, but this was an instant five star read. It’s the tale of two sisters who grow up in a closeted Christian sect, one of whom builds a life outside that group and one of whom segues into a rural survivalist closed community. When tragedy befalls the survivalist community, the sister on the outside has to take on the parenting of her nephew and nieces. Deeply creepy and unsettling, this I’ve read all of Alex Marwood’s excellent books and this one does not disappoint. I’m very stingy with my stars, but this was an instant five star read. It’s the tale of two sisters who grow up in a closeted Christian sect, one of whom builds a life outside that group and one of whom segues into a rural survivalist closed community. When tragedy befalls the survivalist community, the sister on the outside has to take on the parenting of her nephew and nieces. Deeply creepy and unsettling, this book unpicks the story of the survivalist community and the corruption that lies within, and what happens when members of the community are forced out into what they call The Dead. It’s a clash of cultures, mores and perspectives that you know cannot end well, and Marwood skilfully leads you through to the conclusion. Like all her other books I simply couldn’t put this down, and I was so sorry when it ended. Alex Marwood is the heir to Barbara Vine. I received a NetGalley copy in return for an honest review.
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  • Helen (TBC)
    January 1, 1970
    to follow
  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    A solid, intriguing idea but the writing doesn't live up to the premise. I think the point at which I 'noped out' was when a chapter told from the perspective of a five-year-old used the word 'horripilate'.Review copy via Edelweiss.
  • Fiona Mccormick
    January 1, 1970
    Oh this was excellent - and extremely dark! It is terrifying how some people can get caught up in a cult like existence by blindly following an ideology headed up by charismatic personalities. I found myself getting angry at some of the characters, thinking stop being so ridiculous and get out of there! Frighteningly realistic portrayal of how people can be manipulated with their insecurities and vulnerabilities being exploited for the benefit of the 'elite'.I am a huge fan of Alex Marwood's Oh this was excellent - and extremely dark! It is terrifying how some people can get caught up in a cult like existence by blindly following an ideology headed up by charismatic personalities. I found myself getting angry at some of the characters, thinking stop being so ridiculous and get out of there! Frighteningly realistic portrayal of how people can be manipulated with their insecurities and vulnerabilities being exploited for the benefit of the 'elite'.I am a huge fan of Alex Marwood's books, I love the horrible self absorbed characters in them and they are so well written. I would certainly recommend this.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    An unflinching and multi-layered depiction of the complicated dynamics of an apocalyptic cult. Romy is one of the main voices of this book. Her navigation of the world outside the cult creates a completely skewed narrative that adds to the reader's feeling of being off-balance and yet is surprisingly revealing about the insidious nature of the apocalyptic cult she was part of. In flashbacks to her life in the cult, she is clearly warring with the others unwavering conviction that the charismatic An unflinching and multi-layered depiction of the complicated dynamics of an apocalyptic cult. Romy is one of the main voices of this book. Her navigation of the world outside the cult creates a completely skewed narrative that adds to the reader's feeling of being off-balance and yet is surprisingly revealing about the insidious nature of the apocalyptic cult she was part of. In flashbacks to her life in the cult, she is clearly warring with the others unwavering conviction that the charismatic leader is always right. However, this is explored further and the complicated dynamics at play are uncovered; is the unadulterated belief real? Are people too afraid to voice dissent because this would mean acknowledging their own complicity in the cult hierarchy? Or is there genuine fear of the repercussions for challenging the leader? As the book progresses it becomes clear that the hold that the cult has over its members is deeply ingrained, and there are some truly disturbing moments as the book nears its conclusion. My thanks go to the publishers andNet Galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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