Arsenic for the Soul

Vivian Xu Book 2

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
247 Pages
Reviewed on 11/20/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Nathan Wilson's love affair with writing began at the age of seven when he read a short story by his sister. Afterward, he spent much of his childhood writing fantasy. In 2012, he marked his debut in literature with The Undying God. Nathan's writing branched out in mystery and horror when he published Red Widow in 2013. Featuring forensic sleuth Vivian Xu and investigative journalist Camilla Vesely, the series continues with Arsenic for the Soul and All Her Wounds.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Arsenic for the Soul by Nathan Wilson is a dark story that twists until a surprising conclusion. Vivian Xu and her friend, Camilla Vesely, have experienced a lot of darkness and psychopaths. In this follow-up to Red Widow, Vivian has re-invented her life after her time on the streets as Red Widow, after nearly being killed by a deranged detective. She’s a med student, back at home with her parents, and has just met a handsome man who understands her. That’s when everything takes a turn for the worse. Camilla has a stalker intent on killing her, leaving her clues she struggles to understand. Coupled with a tuberculous outbreak that no one believes her about, Vivian has to fight to keep her sanity as she tries to protect her friend.

Arsenic for the Soul isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s dark, edgy, and morbid, but in a good way. Everything horrific about it is balanced by Camilla and Vivian’s charm. Their friendship brings some light to the gloomy world of theirs. A delight to the story is Gavin, Vivian’s former mentor. The few scenes with him gave a much needed break from the darkness of the story. The twist at the end, I didn’t see coming, but after everything is revealed I wondered how I missed it. It’s heartbreaking and horrific. Vivian gets a chance at normality before her life takes a dark turn. By the end, it reads like this is just part of the beginning for Vivian. She’s a rich, engaging character with so much story potential. I can’t wait to see where her story goes!

Deborah Lloyd

The story begins with Camilla Vesely visiting Vesely Manor, the ancestral home of her father’s family. While the family’s goal was to be perceived as a moralistic, upstanding family, Camilla’s birth was a secret. She was the illegitimate child of James Vesely. Camilla’s mother was sent to one of the Magdalene asylums, while young Camilla was sent to Uncle Sebastian’s rural home in the Czech Republic. The public was told the Vesely-founded asylums were places of refuge for prostitutes, unmarried mothers, orphans and the sick. However, they were institutions of hard manual labor, where unforgiving nuns punished the residents for their sins. As an investigative reporter, Camilla exposed the truth and within months the asylums were closed. She and Vivian Xu became best friends during this process. Vivian Xu is now a nursing student. On her first day in the university hospital, she challenges the rigid Dr. Crenshaw and meets the handsome lab technician, Milo Dusan. Nathan Wilson’s fictional work, Arsenic for the Soul (Vivian Xu, Volume 2) evolves into a thrilling, adventurous tale.

The author includes many twists and turns in this spine-chilling novel that takes place in enigmatic Prague. The reader quickly becomes captivated by the intriguing characters, especially by a gigantic human-like beast that seems to only seek revenge. The mysteries continue to multiply, and sometimes it is difficult to discern who is good and who is evil. In Arsenic for the Soul (Vivian Xu, Volume 2), Nathan Wilson engages the reader from the first page to the last. This book is part of a series, and the reader will want to read all of them!

Melissa Tanaka

Arsenic for the Soul by Nathan Wilson is the second book in the Vivian Xu series, which centers on a young woman named Vivian, a medical student with a rough past that includes recreational drugs, a period of street walking in order to support herself, and being attacked by an infamous serial killer. Her friend, Camilla Vesely, a crime reporter for The Blaze, had worked tirelessly to expose the abuse and shut down Magdalene asylums where caretakers punished the women and forced them into manual labor; however, just because the asylums have been closed down and the women freed doesn’t mean that the trouble is over. A stalker, an umbilical cord of mysterious origins, and a sudden tuberculosis outbreak are only the beginning for Vivian and Camilla.

When it comes to uncovering the truth, Vivian and Camilla will stop at nothing. With rich descriptions of people and places, Wilson’s writing makes you feel as though you’re right alongside the two, especially in the most terrifying of time. That being said, Wilson truly shines when it comes to Vivian’s internal battle; he wonderfully demonstrates the difficulty that she faces in trying to move on from her past experiences and reconcile with the muddier actions of her past self. All of this lends itself to the high tension atmosphere of the hospital in which she works. Wilson builds the suspense and stacks the action in a way that you will find yourself turning the pages faster than you can read just so you can find out what happens. I absolutely loved this story.