Thursday, May 13, 2021

Book Review: The Lost Apothecary

I continue to love my Once Upon a Book Club boxes and my next one is on the way and I can't way to see what the book and goodies is. If you are interested in trying it, use my referral code and I think you get a discount on your first box.  It is far and above my favorite subscription box I've ever gotten. 

The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner

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.
I have seen this book ALL OVER #bookstagram so it was already on my TBR because the premise just sounds funky and cool. The book... sigh. The book isn't funky and cool and I can understand why this one gets so many mixed reviews- there was a point where I almost DNF'ed it but then I thought no.... I'm going to keep going. I'm really glad I did because the ending was kind of wild and I definitely would not have predicted all of the elements of it. 

The story itself bounces around between three points of view who are kind of connected. Caroline, who is in London on what would have been her anniversary trip but her husband is a cheating d-bag so she's there alone. She ends up finding this little glass bottle and she figures she is going to dig into the history of it to use her time. Flash back to Nella, an aging woman with clearly failing health, running an apothecary for women who basically need to kill a man for whatever reason. 

(Side note: If you are a fan of Bailey Sarian on YouTube and have gone through all of her Murder, Makeup, Monday videos you might remember an episode with this very premise. A woman makes poisons for other women and they couldn't use it on a woman, and it was basically called Aqua Tofana or whatever, so I kept thinking of that while reading. This has nothing to do with the book but there's what is stored in my brain- nothing useful like my address but there you go.)

Enter little Eliza, age 12, there to pick up a poison for her mistress/employer to kill her husband. Eliza is wildly interested in Nella and her work and they strike up a friendship. Nella doesn't want to and is certain no good would come of it but her mothering desire (she was never had children) kind of kicks in and she feels a kinship to Eliza. 

The book unfolds each of their stories and we slowly figure out how they are all connected in a disjointed way and I really loved the ending. There was a "What the HELL" moment and a "Aw..." moment, and I feel like I had a "But did she kill him??" moment and I really don't know. I mean, I hope not but hell- anything can happen. 

I feel like this is teetering on 3 or 4 stars. I feel like I'm going with 4 because it's rounding up from 3.5. I liked it and it was definitely interesting, but if you could get through the doldrums of the middle, you'll enjoy the end. 

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1 comment:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I do love the idea behind this subscription box; I've known about them for awhile now and I'm so glad you're loving it. Sorry the book was almost a DNF. I have read mixed things, but I have this one and I do want to read it soon.