Aqua Tofana | A Book Review of The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Author: Sarah Penner
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Page Count: 319 Pages
Hi Friends. I'm back with another hot take on the latest books I've read. This one I actually read a while ago. During my 4 month stint of unemployment, I was mindlessly scrolling on Facebook in the Black Girls Read Books Too group, my favorite, for those of you who are new here. There was a thread about books that attracted you just from the cover. Someone posted this one and it caught my eye. It's a very pretty cover as you can see. So many colors.
I downloaded it and decided to take a chance. This is what I mean by the phrase "you can't judge a book by its cover" being complete BS. Had it not been for the cover of this book, I would have completely overlooked it. As I read the synopsis, I got hooked even more. It gave me Giulia Tofana vibes. If you are unfamiliar with the story, here is a clip from one of my favorite youtubers channels: Baily Sarian. She did a video on the Giulia Tofana story a while ago. You can watch it here
The Giulia Tofana episode was one of my favorites so I was super excited to get into this story after realizing they were similar. I wonder if Sarah Penner is familiar with the story and loosely based The Lost Apothecary on it. That would be pretty cool. Who knows? Anyway, let's get into it.
Excerpt From Amazon
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. Sounds intense right? I thought so too.
Okay so this story very quickly became one of my favorites. It's pretty high up on my list of book recommendations Matter of fact, I think it's currently sitting at the #2 spot. It was a quick read, I absorbed it in about three days. Let's take a look at what I liked and didn't like about this book.
What I Liked about The Lost Apothecary
The story moves back and forth between present day London and 18th century London as Caroline Parcewell navigates through the mystery of the Lost Apothecary. During the sections about 18th century London, we get a glimpse of the operations and the day to day functions of the Apothecary under the watchful eye of Nella. She talks about how she learned how to make the medicines and potions from her mother. We also get a hint that there is some significant trauma in her life to cause her to make medicines AND make poisons.
I loved how the story was paced. Everything wrapped up in itself and tied everything together in a neat bow at the end. We see Caroline as she comes to grips with her failed marriage. She recognizes how she had given up so much to be with him and to make HIS dreams come true and now it was time to make her own dreams come true. We see all of this as she is discovering bits and pieces of the mystery and as she discovers the mystery, we see how the end of the apothecary comes about. The intern that unintentionally ruined it all.
I loved seeing how everything was connected. Even parts that didn't seem so important at first. Everything has a story. There are so many pieces of history that we don't know about because there was no way to record them, or, people living in that time didn't think it was important enough to make note of. I absolutely loved how everything unfolded after she found a small bottle with a symbol on it, something that others could have easily overlooked as something unimportant.
What I Didn't Like about The Lost Apothecary
I don't have much to say here really. There wasn't much that I didn't like about the story. I did find myself wishing the 18th century parts were longer than the present day parts in some areas of the book. Other than that, I truly enjoyed this one.
Recommend or Nah?
If you can't already tell, yes The Lost Apothecary is 100% Booky Babe Approved! This story is hands down one of my favorites out of all of the books I have read recently. Mystery. Drama. Intrigue. Historical aspects. You name it. If you're a history buff, or you like a little mystery, you'd definitely love this one here.
Skidaddle on over to Amazon and grab this title. You can purchase it here:
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So there you a have it, friends! Grab this book if you have some time over the weekend. I guarantee you won't regret it. I'd love to see this one get turned into a movie. If you decide to read it, remember to come back and let me know what you think or you can join the conversation over on instagram Until then...
Happy Reading Babes! ❤