Updated: Dec 19, 2021
Did you know historical fiction was a thing? I of course knew historical fiction was a perfectly good genre of books but until recently, I had not read many books within the genre. But after reading The Rose Code (read the review here) I was longing for more in the genre.
Specifically, I wanted more historical fiction about powerful women.
When I went searching for books that fit that description, I found The Lost Apothecary,
Let me briefly describe this book for you:
The book is set in two timelines.
First, modern America where a woman discovers her husband’s affair and decides to go on their anniversary trip to England by herself. This is where she finds a mysterious vial that sends her on a mission to unravel a century-old mystery.
Second, 19th century Britain where an apothecary sells poisons to women who have been abused, cheated on, taken advantage of, or otherwise hurt by men in their lives. She disguises the poisons in a plethora of items so that the women involved (and by extension, the apothecary) are never discovered…until now.
The idea of the book immediately captured me from the moment I read the blurb on Goodreads and I put it on hold shortly after reading The Rose Code. I was positive this would be an excellent book and was extremely excited for the chance to read it.
It wasn’t until months later that I actually got my hands on the book but when I did…I was not disappointed.
This book took hold of me from page one and did not let me go until I had turned the last page (maybe not even then!). I was captured by the setting, the mystery, the characters, even the poisons used!
I desperately wanted to know how it ended and at the same time, couldn’t bear for the book to end. It was the horrible, terrible, twisted fate of the reader of a good book. To be torn between two desires.
Ultimately, though, it would come to an end and I felt the author did an excellent job of the ending, drawing it out and adding in a thousand different elements so I was constantly on the edge of my seat, at the same time, both sure I knew what would happen next and surprised when something else happened instead.
The author also had an incredible ability to both answer the important questions and leave other questions without answers. I felt that it left portions of the book up to interpretation in a good way. I would not be surprised to see this book become a high school student’s school book in the future because of the complexity, room for interpretation, and room for debate over the morals of the characters. The only sad part: it might make students hate the book (and it was such a good book!!!).
Honestly, I don’t have much to critique about this book. I absolutely loved reading it and quickly after finishing it, was looking for a book similar in style and plot to The Lost Apothecary. When I found, The Botanist’s Daughter and discovered it wasn’t available in our local library, I immediately purchased it (thrifted of course) and read it as soon as it arrived (spoiler alert: it was similar to The Lost Apothecary just as I had hoped and it was just as good!). Look out for the review coming soon!
Read The Lost Apothecary if you like historical fiction, mystery, plot twists, or books where you cannot see the characters’ next step. You will enjoy it if your favorite characters tend to be those that are strong, powerful women that stand up for themselves or those with a questionable moral compass.
Side Note: in researching now (looking for any more of Sarah Penner's books I could enjoy!) I have discovered this is her first book! Good job Sarah Penner! I wish you the best of luck on the rest of your writing journeys and you better believe you'll have my support!