The Poison Season (Hardcover)
January/February 2023 Kids Indie Next List
“A beautiful and elegant dark fantasy! The world is so unique with a magical wandering forest, it’s people with magical songs, and a poisonous lake with a secret that enhances the atmosphere of the novel. This standalone is so addicting!”
— Haley Calvin, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO
"Mara Rutherford's The Poison Season took me on journey through a bloodthirsty forest, where two star-crossed lovers discover the true meaning of poison. It brims with evocative storytelling that left me enchanted " -- Emily J. Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel Magnifique
Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they're never heard from again.
Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.
When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she's supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.
Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake--and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.