Wednesday 10 March 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate―and not everyone will survive.

What did I think?

I am completely lost for words (no pun intended); The Lost Apothecary has taken my breath away and left me completely speechless.  I was mesmerised by the beautiful cover from the minute I saw it on social media and I still can't stop looking at it, long after finishing the book.  The Lost Apothecary is the exception that proves the rule; you can definitely judge this book by its cover as it is stunning both inside and out.  

When I finally managed to tear my eyes away from the cover, I was even more delighted to find a map of 18th century London inside.  Oh how I love maps inside books!  After poring over it for several minutes, I did actually refer to the map throughout the book when streets or places were mentioned as I was so immersed in the story that I wanted to follow in the characters' footsteps.

With a compelling past and present storyline that sees an American tourist in present day London researching a glass bottle that she found on the banks of the Thames, my eyes were firmly glued to the page.  I loved following Caroline's research and it felt like a treasure hunt as she digs through old maps and newspaper reports.  Whilst Caroline is researching, her chapters are interspersed with two forgotten voices from the 18th century: Nella and Eliza.

Nella is an apothecary in a hidden shop in London, that can only be found by those in the know.  She meets 12 year old Eliza when Eliza's mistress sends her to Nella for a tonic to rid her of her lecherous husband and Eliza's interest in poison and magic is piqued.  Although Nella is wary about letting anyone into her life, she forms a tentative friendship with Eliza and their lives become intertwined when a simple mistake by Eliza causes the police to suspect foul play in a recent death.

Sarah Penner's tale of mystery, murder and poison transports the reader to 18th century London in her remarkable debut novel.  Beautifully written with vivid descriptions and immersive prose, The Lost Apothecary is as addictive as laudanum and I couldn't put it down once I had picked it up.

Breathtaking, intriguing and mysterious, The Lost Apothecary is an absolutely stunning novel and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.  I loved it so much that I want to read it again as soon as possible and I can easily see this being one of my top books of 2021.  Do not miss this amazing book!

Many thanks to Legend Press for sending me an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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