Big thanks to Park Row for having me as part of the blog tour for The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner!
|Pub Date: 3-2-21|
Adult - Historical Mystery
There aren't many places that cater to women's needs in 1791 London, except for one, but you have to know how to find it. In a dark back alley hidden from view lies an apothecary shop whose customer's come seeking very specific help. Nella was once a respected healer, but after enduring hardships and betrayals, started using her knowledge for a darker means. Instead of goods for healing, Nella sells well-disguised poisons to the desperate women who come to her door seeking a way to rid themselves of the men in their lives. When one of her customers turns out to be an inquisitive twelve-year-old named Eliza, it sets off a chain reaction that will cost one of them their lives.
Meanwhile, in the present-day, Caroline is spending her anniversary trip to London alone after discovering her husband's infidelity. In a moment of spontaneity, she decides to join a group mudlarking along the Thames. Here she discovers a tiny glass vial which the historian in her just can't help but investigate. As she digs into this mysterious vial, she uncovers an unsolved case of apothecary murders that took place hundreds of years ago. Caroline is completely fascinated and will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this mystery, but after her discovery catches some unwanted attention, she'll have to decide if the past is better left buried.
The premise of this sounded right up my alley, and I did enjoy it just not as much as I was hoping to. I thought the historical elements were absorbing, and I liked following Nella and learning about what drove her to such a dark place that she'd turn to making poisons for people. She and Eliza's chapters were my favorites to read from just because I found their points of view a lot more interesting than Caroline's. I didn't think Caroline was a bad character, I just wasn't as keen on her storyline. I think most of that disconnect had to do with the fact that I found her investigation to be way too convenient. Her basically solving a cold case from the 1700s in a matter of days just didn't seem realistic to me. Aside from that, I did still like this and would recommend it if you're a fan of historical fiction with a dash of mystery.