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March 8, 2021

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner ~ a Review

by MK French


In 18th-century London, there are whispers of a special apothecary that caters to women, giving them poisons to use against abusers. When a precocious twelve-year-old is the latest client, an error creates a string of consequences - and murders- that Caroline Parcewell discovers two centuries later. She is an aspiring historian, stumbling across a clue to the apothecary murders. There is a startling tie between her life and the apothecary's, one that can be dangerous.

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The Lost Apothecary
March 2021; Park Row; 978-0778311010
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); magical realism
The Lost Apothecary
weaves the POV of Caroline, Nella and Eliza. Caroline is our present day thread, escaping to London after discovering her husband's infidelity right before their planned tenth anniversary trip. She had put her academic aspirations on hold due to his subtle disapproval, and he often pressed the point that it had all been her decision to make. She finds a vial with a bear imprint while mudlarking in London, sparking the need to trace its origins. At the same time, we meet Nella and her young client Eliza, who is eager to make a connection with Nella and learn more about herbs and magic. It's Eliza's mistake that implicates the shop, leading the two to fear authorities, the elite Lady that demanded Nella's services in spite of her misgivings, and the clients recorded in Nella's register.

I was fascinated by this story and the way the different time periods dovetail. I felt for all of them: Caroline was betrayed by someone couching his manipulation in love, and Nella was betrayed by the man she turned to in her grief. Even little Eliza knew that she had a precarious position in the household she served in, especially once her mistress' husband turned his roving eye toward her. Each of these women were able to lean on another woman for support and encouragement, even if Nella discouraged Eliza's help. It was only by receiving that help that they could move forward and make better decisions for their future. It's an engrossing book, one that I had to finish, even if I was running late!

Buy The Lost Apothecary at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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