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Book review: Teenage girl uses literal kiss of death to get rid of her enemies in 'Poison's Kiss'

Editor's note: This is one of the five novels that are 2017 Whitney Award finalistsin the young adult fantasy category. The Whitney Awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the list of winners, click here.

"POISON'S KISS," by Breeana Shields, Ember, $9.99, 295 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)

In "Poison's Kiss," author Breeana Shields' tells a story based on Indian mythology, but set in the fictional land of Sundari. This first book in her duology is a 2017 Whitney Awards finalist in the young adult fantasy category. The awards honor the work of authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Marinda has endured unimaginable pain from the time she was a baby, an orphan chosen to become a Visha Kanya — a poison maiden — in the service of the Raja. Ever since she can remember, she has used what should be a sign of affection as a weapon. Her kisses are deadly, and while she never sees the death itself, she can vividly imagine how horrible it is. But feeling it's her duty, and the fact that her brother, Mani, would suffer if she doesn't comply, keep her from asking too many questions.

Despite her morbid day job, Marinda finds a tiny sliver of joy when she begins spending time at a local book shop. When Deven, a friend of the shop owner, begins to pay her and Mani special attention, Marinda finds herself enjoying his company and wishing she could have a normal relationship.

When her next assignment involves her new friend, Marinda must decide where her loyalties lie: Deven or Mani. In the process, she discovers the secrets kept from her since birth, shedding light on the truth of who she really is.

While some may find "Poison's Kiss" a little slow-paced in the beginning, the story reaches a point where the surprising twists and turns make it almost impossible to put down.

"Poison's Kiss" has no sexual content and no profanity. There is a small amount of described violence, and a couple of potentially disturbing descriptions of snake bites.

Breeana Shields has a bachelor's degree in English from Brigham Young University. "Poison's Kiss" is her first published novel. The sequel, titled "Poison's Cage," was published in January.

Shields lives with her husband, three kids and two dogs in the Seattle area.