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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Lost Apothecary

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Warning - This Review Contains Spoilers - Spoilers Section Will Be Warned Ahead Of Time

Rating - ⭐⭐1/2


"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."


 

The Lost Apothecary is a standalone novel by Sarah Penner that is part mystery and part historical fiction.


Oh, The Lost Apothecary, how you enticed me with your beautiful cover and your tantalizing plot, but you betrayed me.


While a dual timeline and perspective seemed like a good idea, the concept was better left unwritten. It was known that the plot converged the past and the present through the link of a poisoner, but the point-of-views were not cohesive enough to convincingly show that they were indeed connected.


You would spend multiple chapters immersed in the story of the past, while the chapters sent in the present were few and far between. Due to this, it started to feel like they were two separate stories. Thankfully, this was somewhat rectified by the end of the book, but by that point, it was far too late.


Besides the incohesive perspectives, there were also character decisions so unfounded that it blew my mind that the author chose to advance the story that way. To see the spoilers, scroll down. Overall, this book had potential but it was wasted on bad story formatting and dumb decisions.


Spoilers Ahead

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I'm talking about Eliza and Caroline's husband. In many ways, it is also due to Nella's oversight that things turned out the way they did. Nella allowed for a child to get invested in her work and it was due to an error on said child that Nella's actions came to light. Note to self, don't let a child bottle your poisons. When the story reached its climax, I found no sympathy in myself towards these characters because, well, they had it coming.


With Nella and Eliza's chapter concluded, on the other hand, we had Caroline and her husband who is rewarded the dumbest decision ever award. What on earth was going on in your brain that leads to the ultimate decision to poison yourself in order to try and save your marriage? Because potentially killing yourself and getting your wife arrested for murder definitely seemed like the most logical way.


The decisions that the characters made in this were just baffling and they ruined the potential this story had.

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