The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Historical Fiction, Mystery
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.
What I thought
Thank you Harper Audio and Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.
This story goes back and forth between two-time lines with three different points of view (POV). The first time line takes place in present-day London and the POV is from Caroline. The second time line takes place in 1791 and this is where the other two POVs take place, first we have Nella an Apothecary and then we have Eliza a 12-year-old girl.
Nella who was wronged in a horrible way has turned to the darker side of her profession. She begins creating poisons for women in dire situations to free them of the men who have harmed them. Nella records every transaction as a way to record these women since she wants their stories to be remembered. Nella has let her loss and grief harden her until she meets Eliza a 12-year-old girl who has come for her mistress. Eliza takes a liking to Nella and comes back to the shop and their fates become intertwined.
Caroline who has taken her anniversary trip to London alone after finding out her husband has been cheating on her. She came to London to figure things out and she gets much more than she has bargained for. This is a story about Caroline’s self-discovery as she unravels the past connected to an old vile she found mudlarking along the Thames. Caroline learns how much of herself and her passion she has buried these past 10 years when she gave up her dreams to take a safe job and get married.
This was such an amazing story and I think that there is a lot to learn from Caroline’s journey. I won’t spoil anything but what her husband does in the end just infuriates me so much. I am just happy that Caroline had come so far even though the time was short to see what he was doing.
If you want to read a beautiful story then pick this one up.
My Rating: /5