Publisher: Scholastic

Year: 2020

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From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a Snow White retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”

The Story

Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife … and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

  • "An empowering and action-packed feminist retelling."

    School Library Journal  
  • "[Sophie's] is a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, wrapped up in a thrilling fantasy adventure.

    The Guardian Observer (UK)  
  • "Sophie’s journey gives her a satisfying arc toward trusting herself and not the poisonous whispers of others."

    The Center for Children's Books 

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

The Inspiration 

Can kindness be a form of defiance? Can it be rebellious? Revolutionary?

I believe it can, and that’s why I wrote Poisoned.

Sophie, the young princess in my story, is a kind, gentle girl. When the story opens, she’s about to come of age and inherit her country’s throne, but the queen – Sophie’s ruthless stepmother – wants to prevent that. To her, kindness is just another word for weakness. She sees Sophie as a failure, and she tells her so, over and over again.

And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the bad things that have been said about her – all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.

When the queen orders her huntsman to take Sophie into the woods and cut out her heart, Sophie faces a harrowing choice: she can hide, stay silent, and acquiesce to the queen’s brutal reign, or she can rebel and use the very things that are wrong about her to fight for what’s right.

I loved writing Sophie – a girl who doesn’t start out strong, who makes mistakes, a girl who needs saving now and again – and I loved watching her grow into a girl who does the saving, who still makes plenty of mistakes, but who finally comes to understand what real strength is all about.

Poisoned is a retelling of the Snow White fairytale, but it’s also a plea to meet cruelty with the one and only thing that can defeat it – kindness.

I hope that Sophie’s journey touches you and that it inspires you to embrace your true strength.

Buy Poisoned Now!

Order now from Amazon, B&N, or your local independent bookstore!


    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Susie: Scholastic, my publisher, recommends the book for ages 12+ — so I’d go with their recommendation!

  1. Roxane P says:

    I was wondering if there are any plans to translate Poisoned in French?
    I bought Vilaine for my niece this summer and was hoping to continue the “series” for Christmas but I cannot seem to find a French translation anywhere.
    Thank you!

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      I would love to have Poisoned translated into French — but unfortunately, it’s not up to me! I hope it will be published in French soon, and as soon as I get any news on that, I will let you know!

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Thanks, Ivy! As a matter of fact, I’m working on the next book right now. I can’t say much about it yet, but if you enjoyed Stepsister and Poisoned, I think you’ll be pretty excited when you hear about this one!! (Stay tuned; I’ll share it with my mailing list as soon as I can — you can subcribe here.

  2. Poppy says:

    Hey Ms Donnelly, would just love to say that I really enjoyed this book, and how you twisted a simple fairytale into something this complex! This story was very meaningful to me, and I loved it! Stay safe!

  3. Grace Garcia says:

    I just finished reading your two books Poisoned and Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book. My mom won them from the scholastic books live when you were with John Schumacher. I Love both SO MUCH!! For me the message for the book Poisoned was so strong. I love your writing.Please make more books like Poisoned and Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Thank you for your very sweet note, Grace – and I’m glad the message of those books resonated with you! Poisoned is actually a follow-up to a book called Stepsister — it retells the Cinderella fairy tale, and has another message that I think is very important: Define beauty on your own terms – never let anyone else do it for you. Happy reading!

  4. Naomi says:

    hi Jennifer,
    how can I find a website were I can read this book online? ive been looking EVERYWHERE all over the internet and they want my to sign up with an email and card number verification thing and I dont wanna do that. im not sure what to do. if you have a chance to help id really appreciate it.

    please write back,

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Naomi: I don’t think there is any legal website where you can read the book without paying for either the book or a subscription. But your local library or school library may have a free e-book borrowing program … many of them do!

  5. fianna pearl says:

    hello, im doing this book for a book report and i just wanted to say its an absolutly amazing book in every way and i love it with al my heart. i wiill deffenetly be recommending this amazing book to all my friends and familly. love, fianna

  6. Annamaria says:

    Good evening Mrs Donnelly, my name is Annamaria Esposito and I am Italian. I am one of your readers and I loved the Waterfire saga. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish reading it because the 3rd and 4th aren’t available, unless it’s an e-book. I was wondering if there’s a chance of publishing the book I Italian. Thank you for understanding and for your faithful future answer. ANNAMARIA ESPOSITO

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Annamaria: Thank you for your lovely note! I’m sorry you can’t find the third and fourth Waterfire Saga books in Italian. I wish I could help, but I’m afraid I don’t have much involvement in the global publishing business … but if I have a chance to request this for you, I will!

  7. Lizzy says:

    Hi! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Stepsister and Poisoned. I’d read These Shallow Graves and Revolution years ago and loved them, too, so I was so excited when I saw you were writing retellings. I had such high expectations and you surpassed them by far. Just wanted to let you know and ask if you have plans to write more fairytale books? Even if they’re not I know I’ll read anything you write, can’t get enough of your stories! Have a wonderful day!

  8. Vilia Garcia says:

    Ms. Donnelly, who can I contact about scheduling a virtual author visit for students in my region? I appreciate any help you can provide!

  9. Malik Hopkins says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG. You have done it again Jennifer. Never a disappointing read. POISONED was just amazing! Just when I thought you couldn’t top STEPSISTER, you did with this book. The way you used “poison” throughout the story. Not just in the literal sense but also in the metaphorical. And the line “stop taking poison from fake friends” really resonated with me. Such a strong line. You had me wanting more. Excuse me. You HAVE me wanting more. You are a gifted and blessed author and I am grateful and honored to be able to read your works. Stay amazingly awesome. I can’t wait to read what you have coming next. Thank you again.

  10. Danielle Henry says:

    Hi I am Danielle and I came across your book on a list that someone recommended me and your book Stepsister stood out to me and so I went to a public library and ordered it. Your book is amazing it touched me because you really had put so much emotion into it. It kept me wanting to read more and more. Isabelle kinda connects to me as a person so I was able to relate with her and watching her breakthrough and be who she truly is really inspired me so much. I can’t wait to read Poisoned next. You are an amazing writer and you really touched me as well as others. Keep inspiring.

    Your #1 Fan
    Danielle Henry

  11. Lacy Alise says:

    Hello! Your writing is so cool, I just now saw a Barnes & Noble email for Poisoned and got so excited when I read the author name! I remember reading the Waterfire series a few years ago and absolutely falling in love with the universe and characters. Can’t wait to binge read all of your books ASAP! Have a wonderful day

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Aww, that’s so sweet, Lacy! Today is Poisoned’s birthday and a note like yours is a great gift – thank you! Now that you’re a little older, I hope you enjoy my older-person books as much as you did the Waterfire Saga!

  12. Nic says:

    Hi there, I’m very excited about this book. I see on my audiobook app that it’s read by two different narrators. Is there a reason for this, are they different versions? I’m struggling with which narrator to choose I enjoy both of their styles. Thanks ?

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Good question!! There are different editions — with different readers — in the U.S. and the U.K. But I agree, they’re both amazing! There may be availability issues, depending on where you are, which might help you decide. The good news is you can’t go wrong either way!!

  13. Ana says:

    Hi! I love Stepsister and I can’t wait to read Poisoned ?, is there anyway I can get a signed copy even though I’m not from the USA? Do you have international shipping?

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Ana: Either of my two local bookstores can arrange for me to sign a book for you — just please contact them to make sure they can ship overseas. The bookstores are Merritt Books and Oblong Books — either should be able to help you! Thank you!

  14. Florence Zabler says:

    I can’t wait for this book!! I absolutely LOVED ‘Lost in a Book’ and ‘Stepsister!!’ Is there a way to get a signed copy of ‘Poisoned?’ I have signed copies for both books. ?

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Yes! You can pre-order a signed copy from one of my two awesome local independent bookstores: Merritt Books (make sure you make a note on the order form that you want it signed and whom I should sign it to), and Oblong Books! Hope you enjoy Poisoned!!

  15. Kayla Rainey says:

    I absolutely loved Stepsister, so I’m super excited to read Poisoned! Is there anywhere I can get a signed copy?

  16. Hi, I’m new here and trust me I had to let you know how much I loved step sister. Fairytale retellings appeal to my inner child a bit too much. Anyway I just wanted to say that you have a fan for eternity. I’m a book reviewer (vey new at this) and I would like to review your books on my blog.

  17. Harrellette Tate says:

    Hi! I am one of your fans from years ago, the Tea series :). My heart literally felt like it broke when you began writing young adult books. It’s sooooo hard to find a writer that you LOVE and I diidn’t think I would see you leaving the YA genre anytime soon. ! I want to know if this new book is for YA’s and if it is, would it be something that older adults too would enjoy because I miss your writing so very much!

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Harrellette! Yes, I think and hope older adults will enjoy Poisoned, as they seem to appreciate Stepsister. These books are based on timeless — and I would argue ageless — themes, and I hope they speak to adults of all ages! (And on the Tea Rose front, stay tuned — the books have been optioned for the screen and I hope to have some news to report on that before too long!)

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