Don’t judge a book by its cover. I know this and still picked up The Lost Apothecary because the cover was strikingly beautiful. My last fantasy read was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I was captivated by the story and her descriptive writing style – I felt like a character in the book, feeling and seeing what they did. And so, when I picked out this novel, I had hoped for a similar response. It’s really hard to write this review because I wanted to love the book, but ended up disappointed.
When I started this blog, I only wanted to write about the books I love. Unfortunately, I’ve read a few not-so-good ones this year. Reading is so subjective, though – an awful read for me might be someone else’s favorite. Or vice versa. And with that, let’s discuss…
Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Rating: Something Different
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 231
The Lost Apothecary is Sarah Penner’s debut novel. It’s the story of an 18th-century apothecary who creates tinctures to kill men who have, in some way, wronged the women in their lives (think an affair and the like). Even though she took a vow to do no harm, Nella has been helping these desperate women for two decades. Then, one day she meets Eliza, a young girl who will change her life forever. It’s also the story of Caroline, a present-day woman who found out her husband was having an affair just days before their 10th wedding anniversary. On a whim, she sets off on a solo trip to London to enjoy her pre-planned (and pre-paid) anniversary vacation. During an excursion, she finds a vial that links the present to the past and spends the entirety of her trip diving into research to uncover the events that unfolded out of the apothecary’s shop.
The story has a non-linear timeline that alternates between Nella, Eliza, and Caroline. I found the first two to be very compelling narratives – fun and engaging – and couldn’t wait to read more. Caroline’s chapters were almost dull and it felt like everything that played out for her was both rushed and too good to be true. In a short trip, she was able to figure out her mess of a marriage, decide to go back to school (and get accepted!), and solve the mystery of a series of murders that took place over 200 years ago. Yeah, okay! Is that where the fantasy part comes in?
Even though this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I did like the bonus recipes found in the back. And also the apothecary of poisons, which I Googled to see if they were indeed a thing. They are. No need for your search history to reflect this too!
If you read this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Three women, separated by 200 years, navigate life – and cheating husbands. The non-linear storyline alternates among an apothecary in 18th-centruy London, her young apprentice, and a present-day woman vacationing from the states. Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll get some interesting ideas from the recipes in the back.
If you (wanted to) like this book, you might enjoy: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern