The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Verdict: uhmmmmm… don’t bother. Severely lacking in all aspects
because of a lack of compelling plot, uninteresting characters, a distinct lack of promised magic, a book that’s ultimately just pretty dry and boring. Maybe it’s a good plane book to read then ditch or donate.
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.
To turn a common phrase on its head, this book was entirely putdownable. Which I did, many times, and only picked up again out of a general sense of obligation to see it through.
3 POVs in two timelines meant not one got a strong level of development. Both main stories were entirely uncompelling. There was barely magic, and it wasn’t great when it did show up. A lot of this came down to the characters themselves, whom I didn’t really like or care about. If you read each person’s story on its own, it would be incredibly short and simple. The only difference as it stands is that you read three incredibly short and simple stories interwoven a little bit.
There were some little touches that connected the two timelines — a key word used twice, similar traumas — but… nothing I really cared about. In the end: meh.
I’m super disappointed because I’d been excited about this for months before it even came out, had great reviews, and so of course… it did nothing for me. My overall thought is that clearly many, MANY people loved this, so you may as well. But if you don’t? Well, at least you know you’re not alone.
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