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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart Review

Title: Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Author: Amy Stewart

First published May 1, 2009

236 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9781565126831 (ISBN10: 1565126831)

Rating: 3.81


Amy Stewart’s “Wicked Plants” will introduce you to a world of deadly flora. From trees that shoot poisonous daggers to vines that strangle, this A to Z guide covers over two hundred plants that will leave you reeling.

Learn about the plants that have caused paralysis, triggered wars, and even killed a President’s mother. With sinister illustrations and ghastly drawings, this book offers a fascinating and alarming look at the plants that may be lurking in your own backyard.

Whether you’re a gardener, nature lover, or just enjoy a good scare, this compendium is sure to entertain and enlighten.

About the Author

Meet Amy Stewart, the talented author of more than a dozen best-selling books, such as Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, The Drunken Botanist, and Wicked Plants. Currently residing in Portland with her husband, Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer, Amy has captivated readers with her unique storytelling.

Stay up to date with Amy’s latest news and releases by subscribing to her newsletter.

Editoral Review

Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities is a fascinating and informative work that offers a unique perspective on the world of botany. Published in 2009, the book explores the darker side of the plant kingdom, revealing the many ways in which plants have killed, maimed, and poisoned humans throughout history.

Stewart, a best-selling author and avid gardener, has created a work that deftly blends history, science, and storytelling. Her prose is highly engaging and offers a wealth of information that is both fascinating and thought-provoking.

Wicked Plants is an excellent example of the creative non-fiction genre, in which authors use a narrative style to convey factual information. The book is divided into chapters that each focus on a different plant or group of plants.

Along the way, we learn about plants such as deadly nightshade, poison ivy, and strychnine. We also learn about the many ways in which plants have been used to commit murder, such as the infamous case of the poisoner Mary Ann Cotton, who used the highly toxic plant foxglove to kill her victims.

What makes Wicked Plants so compelling is the way in which Stewart weaves together history, science, and popular culture. We learn about the role plants have played in shaping human history, from the early use of hemlock as a poison in ancient Greece to the modern use of ricin by terrorists.

We also learn about how plants have been depicted in literature, art, and film, such as the iconic scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, in which a flock of birds goes on a rampage after eating a batch of toxic algae. One of the book’s strengths is its ability to engage readers with the subject matter.

Stewart’s vivid descriptions of plants and the effects they can have on the human body are both shocking and captivating. The book is filled with fascinating trivia, such as the fact that the plant responsible for killing Abraham Lincoln’s mother was once believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

However, one of the book’s weaknesses is that it can be overly sensationalist at times. While the subject matter is certainly gruesome and macabre, there are moments where it feels as though Stewart is trying too hard to shock her readers.

Additionally, some of the chapters feel disjointed and could benefit from more focused editing. Overall, Wicked Plants is a highly entertaining and informative work that will appeal to anyone with an interest in botany, history, or true crime.

It would especially be an excellent read for gardeners, who will appreciate Stewart’s insights into the more dangerous aspects of the plant kingdom. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

While it could benefit from some more focused editing, Wicked Plants is a highly engaging and informative read that will delight anyone with an interest in botany or true crime.