• Selena | Beauty's Library

The Lost Apothecary Review

This wasn’t an amazing read that blew me away, but I am glad I read it.


Rating: 2.5/5

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

 

I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for a while now. Basically, since it came out, I kept saying I’d read, but then would have to skip over it to pick up another ARC or review request. So for December, I decided it was a must to finally pick this up and just squeeze this in. And I’m so glad I did, now I finally understand all the buzz around this book.


We following a woman in the present getting some distance from an unfaithful husband. On her trip, she discovers a small vial leading her on a research passion project uncovering a once lost apothecary. This same apothecary from 1791, is one we get to see who secretly sells poisons to women to harm men who have hurt them. And one day a young girl arrives to buy a poison from her.


When this came out, there were a lot of mixed thoughts and reviews. It made me wary, but no less interested as reading is always subjective. Some of the things I heard about this involved how it was specified for its genre and the overall execution.


When it comes to the genre this falls under, I’ve seen several believe this to be a Fantasy. I do not believe that. One of the characters believes in the possibility of magic and what the apothecary does to be a form of it. But besides that, I don’t think this book should be labeled Fantasy for one characters’ belief. This is strictly a Historical Fiction.


I don’t think this book should be labeled Fantasy for one characters’ belief. This is strictly a Historical Fiction.

Now the execution, this is where I have mixed feelings. Some say there loved this, others say they hated it, and just about everything in between. I’m in between. I did not love this one.


The premise was intriguing, and it did keep me captivated all the way through. But there were several parts I did find a bit boring. It was mostly around our present day timeline and characters there. I didn’t care about them all that much. Every time we got to these chapters, I couldn’t wait to be done and switch back to our apothecary. The present day really only got enjoyable as we neared the end, but at that point, I was already uninterested in what would happen for them.


...it did keep me captivated all the way through. But there were several parts I did find a bit boring.

I would have loved to see more focus on our serial killer apothecary, around the poisons she created and who they were made for. Especially more on these rules, she had created ~ “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.” I loved the idea of these rules, but with how the story played out, I was disappointed how these rules weren’t admired as much as they should have been. I do think this idea of an apothecary serial killer could have been a much more thrilling read like Stalking Jack the Ripper.


Overall, this wasn’t an amazing read that blew me away, but I am glad I read it. Although I do wish it was a little more thrilling read. I’d say if you enjoy historical fiction, you might enjoy this one as well!