Book Review: “Poisoned Apples” by Christine Heppermann

Cover of the book "Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty" by Christine Heppermann.
Cover of the book “Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty” by Christine Heppermann.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing the poetry collection “Poisoned Apples” by Christine Heppermann!

This collection’s full name is “Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty,” and it’s a poetry collection that blends fairytale themes with dark subject matter. It’s been a while since I reviewed a poetry collection, and April is also National Poetry Month. I thought this would be fun, and perfect timing, to read and review this collection. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

Once upon a time…
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
fairy godmother,
prom queen,
team captain,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or
a villain, cursed or charmed. You are
everything in between.
You are everything.

In fifty poems Christine Heppermann places fairy tales side by side with the modern teenage girl. Powerful and provocative, deadly funny and deadly serious, this collection is one to read, to share, to treasure, and to come back to again and again.”

Content Warnings:

Many of the poems in this collection contain details about anorexia, self-image issues, and some allusions or references to sexual assault, misogyny and sexism, and self harm. If you are uncomfortable with this type of content, please read the collection carefully or skip this one entirely.

My Overall Thoughts:

This collection does a great job of giving lots of imagery, marrying the fairytale concepts with the heavy subject matter mentioned in most of the poems, especially in the first half of the collection. I think this collection was at its strongest until the halfway mark because it had consistent theming and consistently good imagery.

This changed after about halfway through the collection. The themes and imagery felt less consistent, and there were some poems that felt less like poems and more like prose. For instance, the poem “Thumbelina’s Get-Tiny Cleanse—Tested” feels more like a literal diet list/science report than a poem. I also felt that the first half of this collection was stronger in the fairytale theme than the poems in the latter half of the collection. A few of the poems didn’t even fit the fairytale theme at all, which I found strange.

Overall, I’m rating this collection 3.5 out of 5 stars!

Despite the weaker second half, this collection is a fascinating read with its blend of fairytales and the subject matter it covers. However, please heed the content warnings before reading, in case you are sensitive to any of said heavy subject matter covered in this collection.

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