Friday, March 12, 2021

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Narrator: Lorna Bennett, Lauren Anthony, Lauren Irwin
Published: March 2021, Harlequin Audio / Park Row Books
Length: 10 hours 18 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Audio - via library / Print via Publisher/Publicist


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.

My thoughts:  As I've mentioned before, historical mysteries have become my new favorite sub-genre and this book definitely falls into that category. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to read it and I absolutely loved it! And let's just look at that cover...isn't is gorgeous? 

I'm always a fan of the dual timeline and I was equally invested in both here and loved how they ended up coming together in a cruel twist. I love books set in London and this one really captivated me right from the start. It moves back and forth from the late 1700s to the present day and I just couldn't get enough of either timeline. 

I also loved that there were three points of view driving this story, one in the present and two in the past. The present is more character-driven and the past is definitely more plot-driven, but combined the entire story comes together to keep you engaged and the story moving. Secrets are slowly revealed and the pieces start to move into place as to why the shop no longer exists and what eventually happened to it and to the owner.

As much as I wanted to find out the answers to what was going on, this was also a book that I did not want to end. I completely fell in love with these characters and their stories and loved how the two ended up weaving together. I absolutely loved this book and am stunned that this is a debut novel. I will for sure be on the lookout to see what this talented author writes next. I highly recommend picking this one up!

Audio thoughts: I am so glad I decided to listen to this book - the narrators made this story come alive! Their delivery of the characters was just right, their pacing and intonation was perfect and I was completely caught up in this story, not wanting it to end. 



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