Title: The Apothecary’s Curse
Author: Barbara Barnett
Publication Date: Oct 11, 2016
I received an ARC from the publisher, Pyr, for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
This genre-bending urban fantasy mixes alchemy and genetics as a doctor and an apothecary try to prevent a pharmaceutical company from exploiting the book that made them immortal centuries ago.
In Victorian London, the fates of physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune entwine when Simon gives his wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her cancer, it kills her. Suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder—only to find he cannot die.
Five years later, hearing rumors of a Bedlam inmate with regenerative powers like his own, Simon is shocked to discover it’s Gaelan. The two men conceal their immortality, but the only hope of reversing their condition rests with Gaelan’s missing manuscript.
When modern-day pharmaceutical company Transdiff Genomics unearths diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, the company’s scientists suspect a link between Gaelan and an unnamed inmate. Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe are powerfully drawn to each other, and her family connection to his manuscript leads to a stunning revelation. Will it bring ruin or redemption?
This enthralling urban fantasy features a mixture of alchemical magic, medical thriller with a Sherlock Holmes mystery feel, features themes of love and loss, greed, unforeseen consequences and a bit of madness. The main character Gaelan is an apothecary in possession of a book which contain recipes for elixirs unheard of in the mortal world. One of the concoctions is responsible for Gaelen’s immortality. The secondary character, Simon Bell is a renowned physician show path crosses intricately with Gaelen’s when he approaches him for an elixir to cure his wife’s cancer. This elixir kills his wife but when Simon drinks the remainder intending to follow her to th grave. it head the unexpected effect of granting him immortality.
This book follows them from 19th century Victorian London to modern-day Chicago as they try to track down the book which has been lost to them, and stay ahead of mad doctors and organisations who would love to get their hands on the both Gaelan…again.
I really enjoyed this read, I loved the two timelines incorporated into this story and how they complement each other. They serve to enlighten the reader as to the hows and why of Gaelen’s ‘tortured’ existence and Simon’s quest for that precious alchemical tome, convinced that the could reverse the elixir’s effects.
I loved all of the characters but loved Gaelan’s character best. I came to understand and share his fears of becoming some sort of test-rabbit since they were very likely to come true. I loved that he was able to connect with a few women over the course of his long life, alleviating his mostly lonely existence, however brief these were.
The ending left me satisfied yet wanting more because it ended in such a way as to lead into a sequel and I need that sequel right now! That being said, I really enjoyed reading The Apothecary’s Curse. I especially loved the hunt for the elusive alchemical tome and the ‘flashbacks’. The plot was intriguing, with a Sherlock Holmes feel to it, and kept me glued to the pages and I found myself unable to put it down. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a mixture of mystery, magic and the Victorian London period.
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