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Sarah Penner

Författare till Giftmakerskan

5 verk 4,723 medlemmar 192 recensioner

Verk av Sarah Penner

Giftmakerskan (2021) 3,853 exemplar
The London Séance Society (2023) 865 exemplar


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I'm disappointed and couldn't finish. I liked The Lost Apothicary, and this also seemed like it shouuld have been great, but I kept putting it down because it seemed like a first poorly put together story. I've seen it called ameturish and I would agree, thought I did well to get ot page 129...but no further.
EllenH | 27 andra recensioner | Apr 20, 2024 |
I enjoyed this look into the dark past of London's poisoners. As the author notes in the afterword, "throughout England in th eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the largest population of accused poisoners consisted of mothers, wives and female servants...". This story explores the question "where did the poisoners get the means to commit these murders?"
The story takes place in the present day as well as 1791 London. The characters from the past are the apothecary, Nella, and a servant named Eliza. An American tourist named Caroline finds a vial from the river Thames and sets out to solve the mystery of its origins, with the help of a librarian named Gaynor.
The story line set in the past explains the origins of a serial poisoner, while the story line set in the present day deals with Caroline reexamining her life as she researches eighteenth century history.
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Chrissylou62 | 163 andra recensioner | Apr 11, 2024 |
** spoiler alert ** absolutely incredible. i don’t even have to words to explain how amazing this book was!!! i’ll write an updated more in-depth review later (maybe lol) [sept 15 2023]

[sept 19 2023] Ok it is finally time for my review of this wonderful wonderful book. Get ready, buckle up. In a good way, I loved this book so it's gonna be mostly positive.

First off, I have no idea how on Earth so many people thought this book was boring!! It was a complete page-turner for me, I truly could not put this book down at all. I brought it with me everywhere I went and I must have been so annoying because I bragged to literally everyone and their mothers that I was reading the best book ever. In my opinion and experience, this book had the perfect pace. It was steady and had calm moments but also had wild intrigue and mystery and the climaxes of the book were absolute rollercoasters in a fantastic way. The plot twists had my jaw on the floor several times. I was engaged and interested at all points throughout reading it. There was never a moment where it dragged on too long, even with the long inner monologues/tangents of the characters that were all throughout the book. Everything was perfectly timed. Many times when books go on for pages describing a character’s flashbacks, memories, or train of thoughts, I get frustrated because I just want the plot to continue. But in this book, I never felt that way. There was never a point where I was like ughh come on already get on with it. Not once!! That to me is a testament to how well-balanced Sarah Penner’s writing style is.

I don’t even know where to begin, there are so many things I want to talk about. I guess I will start with the premise. From the moment I read the back cover I was hooked on the premise of this book. It was spooky and deep and feminist and historical and fantastic. I’m also a sucker for apothecaries, plants, and herbology. I was so excited to see where it was going to go. I was also a teensy bit nervous that it would just be full of the whole “all men are trash and should die” thing but it wasn’t at all. (which like don’t get me wrong there’s a time and a place for that but if that’s what I want to read I’ll just go hang out on tiktok and twitter for a bit and get my rage out there. I wasn’t looking for that rage in a book. this time at least.) Sarah Penner’s approach to the subject of toxic patriarchy was done in the most incredible way where I felt so much solidarity as a woman who has been wronged by toxic men and the toxic patriarchy myself. I felt so seen and heard. This is a novel written by a woman for women. It addresses that quiet and unspoken understanding between women, that network and connection that we all have with each other. This book was written specifically for the female gaze. I LOVED it.

The ONLY complaint I have is that the plot points in Caroline’s story all seemed a little too convenient. I would have liked to see a little more struggle. And the likelihood that she’s really the first person to figure out the mystery of a 200-year-old serial killer case does seem a little bit farfetched to me. But at the end of the day, it was not so farfetched that I deemed it completely improbable. Also, the way that it all just conveniently fit together…the whole reason why no one had discovered the truth of the apothecary was because of the secret door and Nella’s ingenious planning. So why was Caroline just able to get her hands on all those documents and articles and piece it all together with such ease? And what were the odds that Bear Alley was just right around the corner from her hotel?? But again, it’s not so improbable to me that it was an issue. I mean these things do happen, how often do people say "what are the odds?!"? A lot. Plus, a lot of discoveries were made because someone was lucky enough to stumble upon something and then they had the curiosity to go and dig further into it. So yeah, these two complaints were not so bad that I couldn’t enjoy the book. They sort of crossed my mind a couple of times but then I just brushed it off because to me it wasn’t a big deal. I mean obviously, I gave it a 5 star rating and don’t intend to change that haha

Next, let’s talk about the characters. Wow, do I have a lot to say here. Ok, first off I hATE James. I mean duh. Though when I say I hate James I mean that he’s a terrible person. He is however a phenomenal character… But WOW. Drinking eucalyptus oil on purpose to manipulate and guilt your wife into staying with you after cheating on her???? YIKES!! I feel like I’d find that kind of story on Reddit. There’s nothing I hate more than a compulsive liar, especially when it’s a man. Anyway. We all hate James here right? Good, on to the others.

Gaynor, boy do I LOVE her. so much. She is such a real one and I want to be her friend. Where's my Gaynor?!?!?! I feel like I definitely have more to say about her (and her super epic dad) but I don't know that my silly little human brain can possibly find the right words to describe it right now. So maybe I'll edit this later lol basically I love her and her dad so much.

Eliza!!! I love little Eliza with all of my heart. No no no like you don’t understand…who gave her the right to be so precious. The whole time that she was confused about her period thinking it was the ghost of Mr.Amwell haunting her I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her it would be okay. I also loved what Mrs.Amwell said about it being as natural as the phases of the moon. so beautiful and true!!!! I absolutely love how Eliza's character was written. You can tell she’s incredibly bright. And she is mature for her age. But despite that maturity, you can also tell she is absolutely still a child. I cannot tell you the amount of times authors write characters that do not sound like the age they were written to be. But with Eliza, you can absolutely understand and see that she is indeed 12. So many people underestimate the awareness of preteens simply because it’s a weird age of being in between childhood and adolescence. As a result, characters in that age group are often written as too mature or too immature for their age or they are the most cardboard cutout, basic, static, character to ever exist. But I seriously have to say that Sarah Penner did a spectacular job accurately portraying a 12-year-old. Especially one who has gone through what Eliza has. To everyone who has been saying that they don’t understand how someone could write a 12-year-old character who is so unbothered by the idea of murdering people, I encourage you to step outside of your own narrative as a modern-day reader with modern education and standards and try to view this from the perspective a 12-year-old girl growing up in the late 1700s. There is so much historical context to explain as to why it makes sense that I would end up just writing a 25-page essay on the different niche societies and cultures of 18th-century London. I simply do not have the time or energy for that. Not only is there a historical context to consider, but also everyone is different. Some people are not creeped out by death as much as others even at a younger age. No, it’s not really normal for 12-year-olds to have a fixation on death and murder (at least modernly, I don’t know as much about what kiddos were like back then), but you have to remember that Eliza’s situation was NOT normal. She was being molested by her master when she was as young as 10 or 11 years old (can’t remember her exact age when it started sorry!!). That does a lot of messed up shit to a person’s brain, especially a child’s. Anyway, I’m not gonna go deep into the psychology of that but yeah, it’s so important when you’re reading (especially historical stuff - fic or nonfic) to remember that times were not the same as they are now and that certain situations like SA or other traumas shape a person's character.

Ok, I know this review is getting so long but I’m not quite done yet I'm soRRY!!

Nella! I love her!!! I love how despite the fact that she was never written to be a perfectly sane, and flawless person, she is still somehow so lovable. I really liked and appreciated that the effects of being a murdering apothecary were not lost on her. She was not just some miraculously strong and unbothered character. No, she has nuance and flaws. She has become physically ill from her work and she knows that well. And it is not lost on her that she has soiled the legacy of her mother’s shop which was once a good and noble apothecary shop to aid women. And yet, though she sells poisons and kills and clearly deserves and needs some therapy, she is still gentle. She holds so much power to do so much literal deadly harm, but she is extremely careful and cognizant and conscientious of how and who experiences it. And despite the pain and suffering of her past with Frederick, she still (knowingly or not) somehow loves and cares for others. She made it her life’s work to be the voice of women who have suffered at the hands of men. She stands true to her philosophies and beliefs no matter what, like when she threw the caranthide beetles in the fire or when she insisted on keeping the register of names in the shop after she left so that these women would still have a legacy. I just love Nella so much. Such an underdog. She is a total self-aware queen if you will. She is wonderful despite --or even in spite of-- her flaws.

The love I have for this book is very big. Everything about it from the plot to the writing style to the characters to the setting, it was amazing. This book was what made me realize that I love the mystery genre very dearly. Before this book, I knew I liked the genre but didn’t realize it would become a favorite. I highly HIGHLY recommend this book. I felt so cozy while reading it too, it’s definitely the perfect autumnal read!! Oh, and I really really like that there are recipes and discussion questions in the back of the book!! So cool!!
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superducky800 | 163 andra recensioner | Apr 8, 2024 |
A good read! Just enough history, mystery, and sluething in histroy to appeal. I'm interested in her next book also.
EllenH | 163 andra recensioner | Apr 7, 2024 |



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