The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner #BookReview

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Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate―and not everyone will survive.

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It’s been a while since I gave a novel five stars but how can I not give five stars to this stunning debut? I’m so happy this novel crossed my path!

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about this novel, I loved the writing and the switches between present and past were perfectly aligned. I was one hundred percent invested in Nella en Eliza’s unfurling story but it was also great to take a step back from those scenes and have Caroline in the present day try to locate this apothecary and its intriguing history. It was exciting to see her stepping into the footsteps of Nella. I’ve read a few books about the Victorian era but this was a new subject to read about for me and it was a fascinating topic with a very likeable apothecary. There is a sideplot about Caroline’s marriage troubles and while I thought James was portrayed a little too much as a villain who should never receive forgiveness for his infidelity and who’s solely to blame for all of their decisions (it’s a good thing he cheated on her then or she wouldn’t have had this eye-opener, take a look at it that way Caroline), I liked Caroline’s personal development throughout the story and how she found her true self again, all because she went ‘mudlarking’ (person who scavenges in river mud for objects of value) on a whim.

The story had a good dose of mystery about the fate of the characters. Nella and young Eliza – wise beyond her 12 years – who came to see her in her shop for a poison, Caroline and her library friend Gaynor, there were definitely similarities in the plotlines, especially towards the end where their loyalties to each other are put in the spotlight, and I grew fond of all of them. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to Nella and Eliza who are now long gone but certainly not forgotten.

I didn’t expect The Lost Apothecary to be such a captivating novel, but it really was a great historical read and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.


10 thoughts on “The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner #BookReview

    • Yes, now I wish I had opted for the paperback (such a beautiful cover too)! You might say you love the past scenes more but in hindsight it’s great how she brought this history into the present. I do hope you’ll like it, it certainly makes me want to read more historical fiction!

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