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Interview: 'The Lost Apothecary' Brews a Secret Sisterhood of Revenge

'I think this concept of banding together, that's exactly what the book is about.'
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  • The Lost Apothecary
  • 'I think this concept of banding together, that's exactly what the book is about.'

Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times Best Seller

Named Most Anticipated of 2021 by Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Hello! magazine, Oprah.com, Bustle, Popsugar, Betches, Sweet July, and GoodReads!

March 2021 Indie Next Pick and Number One LibraryReads Pick

"A bold, edgy, accomplished debut!" (Kate Quinn, New York Times best-selling author of The Alice Network)

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary....

Hidden in the depths of 18th-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 12-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 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate - and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance, and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

©2021 Sarah Penner (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Lost Apothecary

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fell short

I really struggled to finish this. My favorite books are dark adventures. This was not that kind of book despite its synopsis. I also wouldn't describe it as mysterious. The mystery part is really just slight curiosity at best. It was heavy in despair and slow paced for me. Also, two out of the three narrators were hard to enjoy. Disappointed overall.

61 people found this helpful

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So...it’s not so much a mystery for you to solve...

While the story is not so much the type of mystery where you find yourself continually trying to solve it and being led to suspect one character after another of being the bad guy, it is more of a mysterious story that you are walked through. It’s quite enjoyable and the narration is great. It’s not so much suspenseful as just an interesting, well told tale.

40 people found this helpful

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Just ok

This book was mildly entertaining. Despite the glowing reviews, the story was quite dull. There wasn't much of a plotline to really keep you engaged. It was pretty disappointing. I kept waiting for the hook, *spoiler* there isn't one. If you're looking for a cozy, predictable, easy listen- this is the book for you. It might be better in print form, but the audio version made me cringe for my wasted credit.

31 people found this helpful

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2/3 good story

The historical sections are quite engaging. The contemporary section is both insipid and far-fetched.

23 people found this helpful

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Not great

A good story, terribly written. No emotional depth/development to any of the characters. Sloppy ending.

17 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

I enjoyed this story and the characters! The end was good and it felt complete. Lots of mystery and adventure! I love how it connected an object with the present and past. I would have enjoyed seeing if there was more research at the end of descendants and adding more to the story!

14 people found this helpful

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I wanted to like this book.

What I hoped to be an historical fiction mystery soon devolved into the coming of age story for an ADULT and then into a fantasy; genre-bending but not in a good way.
If any of the men in your life are in the dog house, you might enjoy the read.

12 people found this helpful

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such a dissapointment.

If you feel like being dragged along some womans midlife crisis for 20 hours this book is for you! the story had so much potential overall to be very interesting, cut out all of the winey soul searching that goes on for hours and it would be a lovely read.

11 people found this helpful

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Over dramatic reading to a far fetch story

If you like gothic novels, with predictable plot lines, then this book is for you. Interesting story idea which could have been helped by more flushing out of the characters. Overbearing reading of one reader trying to make the listeners always aware of the “doom” to come . (Spoiler alert) Also does not make sense on why someone would be so obsessed with women’s names not being forgotten, as if remembering them for one act could balance out the danger of this record.

7 people found this helpful

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Predictable Plot

Story was pretty predictable. Although, I did enjoy that the author switched between characters and time periods every chapter. The narrators did a good job at keeping it interesting, even as the story become more predictable. Glad I read it, but wouldn’t read it again.

7 people found this helpful

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  • R Gaudion
  • 03-17-21

Horrible narration

Just terrible accents and narration. Ruined an otherwise just passable novel. Too many glaring errors for it to be credible in any way but it was a good premise and Nella was at least likeable. I can’t recommend it however. Very predictable and factually off the mark with too many americanisms that ring false with the London setting.

5 people found this helpful

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  • L. Ascroft
  • 06-07-22

Quite good but would have liked more

I quite liked the story but feel that the author could have got stuck into her characters and brought them to life a bit more.
I couldn’t understand how distraught one character was about another when their relationship had not seemed an especially close one to me, that’s where the author could have expanded and have let the reader see the relationship blossom.

The narrator for Nella’s parts was awful to listen to and she sounded like she was doing a bad impression of Phil Mitchell, it was gruff and monotone and I would inwardly groan every time I heard it.

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  • Monica Balt
  • 07-18-21

Thoroughly enjoyable page-turner!

Sarah Penner certainly transported me to the streets of 18th London with this wonderful, masterfully told story which is both sinister and magical. I particularly enjoyed Nella. Eliza's characterisation was refreshing! Excellent narration all round, but special kudos to the narration of Nella, it was sublime. Certainly looking forward to Sarah's next novel!

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  • Liz Mitchell
  • 05-06-21

Good basis for a story

Some good threads but the details would not bear close scrutiny. I liked the idea of different 'voices' but the English accents were ridiculous!!

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  • Lou
  • 04-20-21

Fantastic mystery!

Accents a bit all over the place in parts, and I usually give up on audiobooks when that's the case but the story was enticing in it's dual timeline weaving and each of the characters has depth.

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  • Sam
  • 04-20-21

A pleasant accompanyment

I listen while doing housework and this little window into another reality was surprisingly enjoyable. The simple happenings of two different lives bound together by a chance find is a lovely basis for a story and the reflections of the contemporary character may seem obvious but that seems to be why it's so lovely and relatable, an everyday adventure that could be any one of us.

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  • Elodie
  • 04-20-21

Sloppy writing

Centimetres in England in the 18th century? A servant girl with a cut glass accent - come on, give your reader credit for some intelligence. Nella's voice was so monotone I felt myself nodding off listening to her. Couldn't finish it.

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  • Sunhappi
  • 04-19-21

Amazing book

This was a really enjoyable book to listen too. It was well written with likable characters. There was a good plot with suspense and intrigue. Thought provoking how life can change so easily all based on one small action, destiny really is yours to change. Would love to see if there is a sequel to this book, with further adventures of Caroline and how she progresses with her new found intrigue into the past of people long ago. Will be Looking forward to Sarah Penner next book, very talented author well done.

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  • dsr25
  • 04-15-21

Captivating!

Really enjoyed this dark but captivating story. I dislike stories that jump around in time, but for some reason I was able to keep going with this one, and it was fascinating how the two timelines twisted and jumped though the centuries. I do hope there will be a follow on to this story!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-25-21

Binge worthy

love love loved it. The parallel story telling is perfectly executed and easy to follow.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-19-21

Struggled to listen

Possibly an ok teen book maybe. The narrator of the main character was out of step with the character and very flat.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-13-21

Fascinating Book

loved it, fascinating story. Loved the main characters Nella, Eliza and Caroline. Binge read in two days.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • davkat
  • 03-16-21

Great mystery!

Loved it. It was a good steady read with interesting twists and turns. The voices were great.