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The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

My thanks to Justine Sha at Harper Collins for inviting me join this blog tour. The Lost Apothecary – by Sarah Penner was published on March 2, 2021 and has taken me back in time to victorian London.

In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, 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. Pitched as Kate Morton meets The Miniaturist, The Lost Apothecary is a bold work of historical fiction with a rebellious twist that heralds the coming of an explosive new talent.

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

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.

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.

Our Author – Sarah Penner

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe.

The Lost Apothecary moves between entries and characters. Forstly we have Nella – in 1791, who is our apocathe and who the book is about. Her mother ran, what we would call a chemist, and taught Nella everything she knows. When he Mother died and left Nella grieving, having only known her Mother and noting else is left her hollow and then Frederick came along and made her happy once more. But didn’t leave her that way, he left a bitterness within Nella which made her turn her mothers legacy into something more sinister. She started dispensing potions to women, to aid them to be rid of the burden of their husbands, fathers, employers – she would only give her ‘prescriptions’ to women, to aid women. And all was well and this had worked for her and her reputation had grown. Till one day, a young girl, Eliza Fanning comes and requests a potion on behalf of her mistress.

Young Eliza is enchanted by what she believes to be Nella’s magik and feels that Nella needs her, Nella is ill and needs help, but is reluctant to embroil Eliza into her world poisons, she’s young and needs not to be shut away brewing lethal potions. Also after a totally accidental, but lethal poison gets dispensed and a discrepancy occurs, she’s loathed to involve Eliza further more, but Eliza makes it her business and

And then theres current day and Caroline, who’s just found out her husband is cheating on her and has flown to the UK on what should have been their anniversary break, a trip she’s always wanted to come on, all planned and having been dealt this blow, she is at her wits end and has come alone to soul search.

The Thames dominates London and anyone who’s walked along by it will have seen the tide goes out and people ‘mudlarking’. Caroline joins in and makes a discovery that leads her to make new friends and discoveries of her own. James finally joins her in London and though neither are sure what they want anymore from each other. Caroline knows her history degree, that she gained at college and never got to put to use, shouldn’t go on being wasted and wants to do something with it. The reason she wanted to go to London was to indulge her love of the historical side of life there and she goes one better.

The book is researched and written incredibly well, its like I am back in victorian London, walking the cobbled streets in search of Nella and Eliza. I love historical themed books, but with medical references and with this one poisonings and murder are rife too, so made it even more enjoyable. This a strong debut and I think Sarah is one to watch, as she can only improve with experience. The Lost Apothecary is a compelling and stimulating read that will keep you up late, wanting to find out what 1791 and current day brings.

To buy The Lost Apothecary


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