by Fez Inkwright

Author: Fez Inkwright (creator of Folk Magic and Healing and the Seed and Sickle Oracle Deck)
Publisher: Liminal 11
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978-1-912 634-22-4
Date of publication: 2021
Hardback book with 257 pages

The first thing that struck me about this book was the cover—oh it is beautiful! In blacks, pale oranges and grey-blue with copper colour print and highlights with flowers, skulls & bones and spiders in a textured pattern. If you run your finger over the cover, you can feel the texture. This design is repeated on the inside front and back covers although without the texture.

Inkwright begins with an interesting history of poisoning, mentioning Socrates’ execution by hemlock in 399 BC as well as other poisonings over the centuries.

The chapter entitled ‘To Cure or To Kill’ makes very fascinating, if not gory, reading. Death and healing would have commonly walked hand in hand in years gone by; much early work with plants would have been very much trial and error. Ideas about plant healing were based on the doctrine of signatures, an ancient medical concept developed by Paracelsus in the early sixteenth century. This principle suggests that plants which resembled parts of the body could be used to treat ailments of these parts.

The bulk of the book is an A-Z list of plants and herbs and their use from a ‘poison’ perspective. Some, such as deadly nightshade and mistletoe, are very well known, and some, like tomatoes and basil, we recognise as harmless sources of food. Each entry has a lot of information about the plant and its association with poison. The illustrations of each plant are in black and white which gives the book an ‘old’ feel to it, rather like an old botanical book; although I liked it, I think some readers might prefer a bit of colour.

Being a keen gardener with an interest in herbalism I found this book very interesting. I have grown many of the plants in my garden, although not to poison anyone I hasten to add! Although it is not really a book to sit and read like a novel, it is a great and fascinating reference to dip into.

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