The Poison Garden

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

This book was very disappointing. The characters were very frustrating. I liked it but I didn't love it. I just couldn't really share a big enthusiasm for it.
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The Poison Garden had a good enough start but 1/4 of a way in it started to just become a bit of a mixed up story. The outcome wasn't what I was expecting though. I thought the ending had happened then another couple of twists came but it wasn't necessarily keeping me locked in. I skimmed through a lot of it to get it finished. Characters werent as good as I thought. Elsie has everything. The house, the job, the husband but on her 1st wedding anniversary her world is turned upside down and she has no idea what is going on. She questions everything in her life and a few twists come along to greet her. It seemed like a tense read but as you got further on in it just didn't really flow as it should
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I previously read and reviewed another of Banner's books, back in 2018 - After Nightfall. That, I felt, was a pretty decent thriller. This, I'm afraid, just isn't.

One of the things that seems hardest to get right for a good thriller, is to have a plausible plot. After all, its a hard line to tread - you need something exciting and intricate enough to be entertaining, yet something that doesn't push the boundaries of real life. You lose your readers, if you leave them eye rolling and saying, 'yeah, right - that sounds believable'. 

That for me is the biggest problem with this book. Too many times I was lifted out of the story because something ludicrous happened, or too many spurious coincidences took place. You can only ask your reader to suspend their disbelief for so long, before they lose patience.

Some of the decisions these characters make are questionable at best, and mostly laughable. And the author seems so keen to hide who the culprit is that red herrings and seriously weird behaviour are thrown in at every turn. It's a real shame actually, as the bare bones of the plot promise something much better. 

This book is getting some real mixed reviews, so if you're after a thriller that won't really take much attention, you can skim read on holiday and leave behind in the air bnb, then go for it.
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I Loved the premise of the plot but unfortunately it fell flat for me. The plot ended up being too unbelievable and I couldn't connect to the characters. Again I'd like to thank netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to review the book.
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Thank you to Lake Union Authors and Netgalley for a copy of The Poison Garden by AJ Banner in exchange for an honest review.

I did not love this domestic drama as much as I hoped I would. I did read it during my reading slump so take that opinion with that in mind. Elise starts out happy with her life and marriage. Finally in a good place since her mother does, Elise is married to the doctor she saw for her treatment and is coming home early to surprise him for their anniversary. When Elise comes home, things are not as she thought and suddenly everything she thought she knew comes into question.

I liked the pace and the length of this thriller, but I did find Elise a bit hard to follow. She has periods of sleep walking and blackouts that I thought really just threw the whole story into chaos rather than making it more suspenseful. It was a quick entertaining read but not one that I fully invested myself in.
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When I picked up this book, a day before it was set to release, I couldn't make it to the end of Chapter 1. I had been studying and reading, every moment I had been awake, for a couple of weeks. So when the lead character,  Elise kept talking about birds and how amazing her husband, I was annoyed and kept it aside because I am judgy when I am annoyed. I judged it to be yet another disappointing thriller. However, the description kept me in the loop of thoughts surrounding this book. It kept in a tiny light of excitement. So, on the day of release, I just stared at the book, murmuring an apology for being judgy and kept it aside again to read when I am in a good place. But girl, was I wrong about so many things!

Set in Chinook Island, Elise Watters returns home a day earlier, after a meeting with her financial Advisor, to surprise her husband, Dr Kiran Lund, on the occasion of their wedding anniversary the next day. Keiran had been her mother's doctor after she was diagnosed with Brain Tumor. After her mother's death, Keiran had been there for Elise as a shoulder to cry on. 
When she gets homes, she finds her husband in bed with another woman. Not only is she shocked and betrayed, but she also hears the woman saying to Keiran about how she wants Elise gone while Keiran replies about some long game and to be patient. This throws her off course and she confronts them, throwing Keiran out of the house. 
After that, she confides about this to her best friend and neighbour, Chantal and also her ex-husband Brandon hesitantly, since he is on the island working at Chantal's place. As the plot moves on, Elise uncovers terrible news related to her mother, through her mother's journal. 
Due to increased stress, her sleepwalking returns and one night, she finds herself beside her husband's lifeless body-the day after she finds out she is pregnant-in the garden of her estate, she inherited from her mother. What happened? What had she done? Her paranoia spikes up while she unravels the threads of mystery obstructing her life. She has to fight for her life. And her baby's.

"Holy mother of Jesus! Finally, a domestic psychological thriller that didn't let me down and it has revenge in it! Why did I take so long to read this book? The book kept me guessing until the very end and the end, sweet god, was my suspicions wrong!" were my first thoughts after I finished reading it!

Fast-paced, riveting, beautifully woven and utterly conspiring, the book is one of the best read I have had this year! It has been a while since I bit my nails through the book. It's red and bleeding but the book makes it totally worth it because that's the kind of books I love these days after disappointing thrillers! I want my mystery/thrillers to drive me insane and make me savour everything about the experience! By the end of the book, I just wanted to hug Elise and kill anyone who dares to hurt her. I felt so maternal towards her. Whatever Banner was trying to make the readers feel, she succeeded in it! Every character is flawed yet so perfectly blended, in tune with each other and the storyline. Banner took my heart and stomped on it and then in the last chapter, she took care of my heart in the most beautiful way possible. This book turned out to be a quick read compared to other thriller reads but every moment of it keeps you wanting more! Banner doesn't beat around the bush but has the knack to keep the suspense going in an engrossing way! 

I loved reading this book and I will check out the other books by the author! I swear to god, I will be talking highly about this book in the days to come!

Recommended: To everyone, read it already! Trigger warnings may include.
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Wow! This is a sick/twisted story about a bunch of sick/twisted people who live on an island and aren't particularly happy with their lives.
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After reading After Nightfall, IMO a 5 star read, this author went on my radar. I was ecstatic to be approved via NetGalley and have the opportunity to read this title.  However, as I have said on many occasions, I am always skeptical to read a follow-up book because will the latest book be as good as the first.

Elise Watters, returns home a day earlier, after meeting with her financial advisor, to surprise her husband, Kiernan, since the next day is their 1st wedding anniversary.  Elise and Kiernan met when he was treating her mother for a brain tumor.

But what she finds is her husband in bed with another woman.  Not only is it shocking but what she overhears is terrifying.  It appears the two may be plotting for her demise.

Over the next few days, she finds her mother's journals that she kept in her herbal shop.  Recipes of different herbs for different ailments.  But also in those journals, is a warning to Elise that Kiernan can't be trusted and if she dies it isn't from the tumor but she has been murdered.  Another warning was about an herb, the Juliet.

She confides this to her best friend, Chantal, and even her ex-husband, Brandon, who has been doing construction on Chantal's house and who is now helping Elise change the locks on her own house.  Elise has a history of sleepwalking and one morning finds herself outside standing over her husband's body.  What has she done?

Each character has major flaws and one of them has a plot for revenge.  I tried tenaciously to figure out which one it was but at every turn, my suspicions changed.  Did I eventually figure it out?  And then came a stone wall.  At 80% read, it appeared that the mystery was solved, but how could that be, I still had 20% to read?

WOW...let me tell you, the last 20% was shocking!  And no, I didn't solve it, I didn't even come close!!!

Kudos Ms. Banner!!!!  Another 5 star review!!!!
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Killer plants are always fun. And thus this book was fun too. 

There are definitely some holes in the narrative and a frustrating information dump toward the end to help explain the solve, but it’s a quick and enjoyable read with multiple twists and lots of things that aren’t quite what they first appear to be. 

A propulsive, light mystery with a satisfying ending.
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WOW. This book was AMAZING and filled with so many thrilling twists and turns I could not put it down. The caption and cover had me. But when I started turning the pages I couldn’t put it down! This suspense filled psychological thriller will keep your eyes open wide right until it’s amazing end you won’t see coming! Elsie thought she had it all and once her life takes an unexpected twist the domino effect keeps coming. A first by me by this author won’t be my last! Thank you Netgalley and the author and publisher for the ARC for my honest review. I look forward to reading ALL this author writes! A must read!
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I’ve truly enjoyed A.J. Banner’s last book but was disappointed in this one, I felt it to be too unbelievable with very unlikeable characters, sorry, this one wasn’t for me. Thank you to netgalley and publisher for this arc in exchange of an honest review.
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I received an advance digital copy of this book from the author, Lake Union Publishing and Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I really wanted to like this book. I was sadly disappointed. The prologue hooked me, the book lost me.  The writing was fine, but the suspension of disbelief was pushed to the breaking point. Too many twists and turns, completely unbelievable circumstances and unlikable characters.

2 out of 5 stars.
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EXCERPT: I tried to cry out, but his fingers were crushing my neck. Spots danced in front of my eyes. Only a gurgling sound came out - I couldn't breathe. My baby! I wanted to scream.

'I had to protect you,' he said. 'I had to-'

I choked, pinpoints of light bursting through my vision as I gasped for air. This is how I'm going to die, I thought. My baby, too. The both of us.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Elise Watters seems to have it all—a blissful marriage, a gorgeous Victorian home surrounded by lush gardens, and a dream job running her late mother’s herbal boutique.

But on the eve of her first wedding anniversary, Elise makes a shocking discovery that turns her life upside down and casts doubt on everything she thought she knew—about her marriage, her friends, and even herself. As she treads into dangerous territory, Elise is forced to wonder: Is her whole future at stake? Or is paranoia getting the best of her?

If she is to believe what she sees, Elise has every reason to fear for her life…

MY THOUGHTS: Having read the majority of this author's previous books, and enjoyed them, I was looking forward to The Poison Garden, enticed also by that beautiful cover.

I was disappointed. Very disappointed. The characters have no depth. The plot, while fast moving, lacks cohesion and believability. I didn't feel any suspense at any point during the read, and largely skimmed the last third. Nor is there anything remotely 'psychological' about it.

It is a quick read, but not one I will be recommending. The Poison Garden could have been a good, creepy, suspenseful psychological thriller, but fails on all fronts. I expected more from this usually excellent author.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from The Poison Garden, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it.


THE AUTHOR: A. J. Banner grew up reading Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, and other masters of love and mystery. She enjoyed sneaking thrillers from her parents' library, which gave her excellent fodder for her novels of psychological suspense, The Good Neighbor, The Twilight Wife, After Nightfall, and her upcoming release, The Poison Garden. The Good Neighbor was a #1 Kindle bestseller for 34 days in a row, and The Twilight Wife became a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller. After Nightfall has been a Kindle bestseller in several categories. Born in India and raised in North America, she always dreamed of writing gripping stories in which nothing is what it seems. She's hard at work on her next novel in her home office overlooking a Pacific Northwest forest.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage
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I was not a big fan of The Poison Garden, it just wasn't for me. I enjoy psychological thrillers, but I tend to prefer ones that have realistic characters and plots, which is not the case with this novel. I was not able to relate to the characters, and the plot and twists and turns were just a little too much for me. That being said, I was intrigued enough to want to continue reading to see what would happen next. I would read another book by the author.
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This is my second book that I have read by A.J. Banner and I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. The writing was good and I enjoy A.J. Banner’s writing but Elise is just not the best main character. I can’t relate to whiney main characters who almost give up on themselves. It was hard to focus on trying to figure out what was going on with how much she was feeling sorry for herself.

🌟🌟🌟✨(3.5 out of 5 stars) This story was not for me. Others may really like it but I have a very strong personality and so weak personalities really just rub me the wrong way in books. With that said I am looking forward to more books from A.J. Banner because I think she is a very good story teller.
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Another one of my favorite books by A.J!!! Fast paced read and had me questioning to the end. This book will definitely have to on the edge of your seat!
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The poison garden is such a Fantastic book 
I had such a hard time putting it down. 
Elisa is newly married and one  day before her 1 year anniversary, she finds her new husband  in bed with Diana, shes totally blown away. Tells  her new husband get out with knife in hand...
Asked her ex husband  to change  the locks so the husband  can no longer  get in....Elisa has bigger problems  coming...
This book is Fabulous. A Must Read .
So Excited That I Got To Read Early..
Thank you .Netgally for this early read it was amazing..
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Damn! I couldn’t put this book down, and it’s A. J. Banner’s fault! Like her previous three domestic psychological thrillers, this newly-published novel is tight and compact. Set on one of the islands of the Pacific Northwest, it has more twists and turns than a mountain road. In under 200 pages, she manages to draw in the reader with a grip that never releases until the last page. If you’re looking for a read that has creepy and shadowy overtones – perfect for Halloween reading without ghosts and goblins – this should be at the top of your list. And oh, yes…I’d be careful of what may be in your coffee.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill.
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This was my first time reading this author. This was a dark and intense twisted story. It kept me on edge and I was totally glued to it. I loved all the twists and suspense. I'll be reading all her books! This was a fabulous thriller. Well written. One of the best I've read this year. 
I was given a copy from the publisher for my honest review.
Novels N Latte
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So... so... I don't know what to write about The Poison Garden... that would be favorable, besides that, the read went QUICKLY and the beginning. And with that, I can end anything good I can say about that book.
Elise has an ideal life and future, one word - had it ALL. But coming home earlier destroys everything, and her dream is falling down, fast. What is true, what is fake? Nothing will be reliable for Elise and how can she trust anyone when she can't trust herself?
I had not felt ANY of the characters, that was here or even understood. Their motives or plot twists were coming too fast or out of nowhere, and made me reread past scenes, which had not helped me understood at all.
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