Book Review – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner


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 had seen this book around and decided to try it for myself. There seemed to be a lot of positive reviews so I was quite excited to get started! 

I really enjoyed this book. I was gripped from the beginning. The writing style was easy to read and yet interesting in the way that you hopped from past to present. Sometimes jumping back and forth can be a bit of a problem, but this was seamlessly done without much effort from myself as the reader. 

The chapters were fairly long so you got a good chunk of each part of the story before you were transported to the other time. I liked this as you could really get immersed in what was happening before swapping to the other time and story. 

I liked the characters and despite the fact that the apothecary was an accessory to many murders you could feel her pain and understand her reasoning. It was quite a sad and emotional story at times. 

I loved the relationship between Nella and Eliza. That was really heartwarming. The relationship between Caroline and Gaynor was also lovely. The relationship between Caroline and her husband wasn’t the best and really emphasised that some things don’t change over 200 years!

I loved the time period chosen seeing as it isn’t a time period that I’m overly familiar with, so it was nice to experience that. I also enjoyed the setting. It was nice to read about a place fairly local to me (well an hour’s ride away!) as again a lot of the books I have read recently aren’t set near me. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to those of you who like historical fiction.

⭐Rated 5/5⭐

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