ARC Review: A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

Posted January 12, 2024 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 8 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review:  A Drop of Venom by Sajni PatelA Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on January 16, 2024
Genres: YA Fantasy, YA Mythology, YA Retelling
Pages: 416
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: five-stars
Buy on AmazonBuy on Barnes & Noble


Circe goes YA in this unapologetically feminist retelling of the Medusa myth steeped in Indian mythology, a YA epic fantasy addition to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.

All monsters and heroes have beginnings. This is mine.

Sixteen-year-old Manisha is no stranger to monsters—she’s been running from them for years, from beasts who roam the jungle to the King’s army, who forced her people, the naga, to scatter to the ends of the earth. You might think that the kingdom’s famed holy temples atop the floating mountains, where Manisha is now a priestess, would be safe—but you would be wrong.

Seventeen-year-old Pratyush is a famed slayer of monsters, one of the King’s most prized warriors and a frequent visitor to the floating temples. For every monster the slayer kills, years are added to his life. You might think such a powerful warrior could do whatever he wants, but true power lies with the King. Tired after years of fighting, Pratyush wants nothing more than a peaceful, respectable life.

When Pratyush and Manisha meet, each sees in the other the possibility to chart a new path. Unfortunately, the kingdom’s powerful have other plans. A temple visitor sexually assaults Manisha and pushes her off the mountain into a pit of vipers. A month later, the King sends Pratyush off to kill one last monster (a powerful nagin who has been turning men to stone) before he’ll consider granting his freedom.

Except Manisha doesn’t die, despite the hundreds of snake bites covering her body and the venom running through her veins. She rises from the pit more powerful than ever before, with heightened senses, armor-like skin, and blood that can turn people to stone. And Pratyush doesn’t know it, but the “monster” he’s been sent to kill is none other than the girl he wants to marry.

Alternating between Manisha’s and Pratyush’s perspectives, Sajni Patel weaves together lush language, high stakes, and page-turning suspense, demanding an answer to the question “What does it truly mean to be a monster?”

I was excited to read this one, and then once I got into it, I was hooked! This book had so much to it! It had wonderful mythology/fantasy world building. Characters with a lot to them, both the good and some of the bad even. Although what we consider the bad in this book aren’t either of the main characters, even if others in the story may consider them monsters.

Pratyush, the Slayer, the only one left, was such an interesting character. His life may have seemed like he was a hero, but still he was under the King’s thumb, and often had to do things he might not have felt was necessary. Many of the monsters that could have just been avoided, and people who might not have died, but either they wouldn’t listen to him, or he had to for the King. It was easy to kind of fall in love with him a little in his interactions with Manisha when she was a priestess.

Manisha though was who I was rooting for. Seeing also what she had to go through to survive when her family and people were attacked and almost completely destroyed by the King’s army. The way her life at the holy temple wasn’t great. How there were mean girls there, and what happened when they took over thanks to the death of who had been in charge. Her life there made it hard for her to know who to trust once things changed and she was back in the world below the floating mountains. Made it harder for her to trust even when someone was actually offering help or friendship.

Of course there is also the whole theme of being violated. What happens to Manisha, what happens to the women she meets in the world below. And how even trying to help them causes her to doubt if things were her fault. What she could have differently to maybe prevent it from happening. The author does such a great job weaving into this fantastical story what it is like for real life girls or other victims in those situations. The doubts we feel. The way we are afraid to tell our story, because there are or could be those people who will basically feel as if it was our own fault it happened, that we did something wrong or deserved it because of the way we dressed or where we went. Once again there was line included that was one that has always resonated with me because of how it applies to my own situation. When Manisha says: “…took something from me that was not yours to take.” That feeling right there is one that sticks with me to this day, from the first time I read the basically same thing in the book After by Anna Todd.

And finally, the author’s note at the end. How she talks about her love of mythology being really ignited when she read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and how insane it is that she is now writing for his line of publishing with her own mythology. And I love bringing the story of Medusa to life in this retelling. How she is a villain, but think of how we overlook her past and what made her that way. These two statues she talks about side by side, fit this story perfectly.

Picture from The Art Newspaper and linked to that article.

I am also glad to see that we will hopefully be getting another story in this world, from one of Manisha’s sisters it seems!

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8 responses to “ARC Review: A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel

    • Lisa Mandina

      I haven’t read this author before, is the other type of book romance? I know she has some that are romance that I want to read too.

  1. I love it when books do world building really well. It sounds like a really well written book with interesting characters. And that’s great there will be more books in the same world.

    • Lisa Mandina

      It was great world building, so glad that means there will be more, because I still had questions about some of the world we barely touched on.

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