The Lost Apothecary

Book Blurb:

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.

My Review:

There is a charm in things left behind by people who once walked on this earth. Their memories, their lives as reflected in those inanimate things draws us to it. Makes us curious about what it was that mattered them the most. When Caroline finds a bear engraved vial from Thames during a mudlarking tour, she is intrigued and excited to dig more in the British Library. She is helped by an employee there whose expertise in reading centuries old maps lead her to the Bear Alley, where about two centuries ago was a shop of an apothecary, who, as consequent discoveries of dissertations, hospital notes and newspaper articles suggested, dealt with selling poisonous potions and tinctures as well. And might have been related to a series of deaths in weird circumstances that had occurred during late 1790s, when forensic science was not that well developed to detect poisons in food.

The narrative takes us back to Nella, in 1790s, who continues to run her mother's apothecary shop after her demise, yet with more sinister purposes. She doesn't deal with just healing balms and soothing brews, but also deadly poisons. The story introduces Eliza, the 12-year old who unexpectedly turns to be a major protagonist in the tale. There are secrets, deceit, hidden rooms, and enough twists and edge-of-the-seat thrills to keep you hooked till the very end. 

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 


  1. As a fan of suspenseful and twist-filled narratives, "The Lost Apothecary" seems like a book that will keep me guessing until the very end.

  2. Love the title of the book. Must check it out.


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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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