Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating exploration of women rebelling against a man’s world, the destructive force of revenge and the remarkable ways that women can save each other despite the barrier of time. 

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 
by Park Row Books/HarperCollins
4/5 stars

Thanks to the fine folks at Park Row Books/Harper Collins this was a combination listen and read book.  I've done this a couple times, its great for getting a real sense of the voices through the audio and curling up on the couch for a read rounds it off nicely.

Debut author, Sarah Penner has written this dual time period story told through 3 different narratives, two in the past and one present day.  Naturally I was drawn to the past for its mystery and history.  I loved listening to Nella tell her story on the audio, the narrator had a dark edgy tone that had me visualising probably more then what was written - does that make sense? Definitely the audio for the past worked nicely.  

The present day story was interesting enough,  mud larking was a new term for me and now I want to go to England and mud lark, searching for lost treasures. It was an interesting thread, I liked Caroline's drive and watching her transition but it was the past that keep me reading.

The Lost Apothecary is a story of herbs, while usually to heal this time it's the opposite.  Getting to know Nella through her past answered the question of why she does what she does.  The friendship with Eliza and ramifications turned this into a story of survival with some suspense and sacrifice. 

A solid debut that I highly recommend.

Both the audio and ebook were provided by publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange
 for an honest review.


No comments:

Post a Comment