Book Review: The Apothecary's Curse


The Apothecary's Curse by Barbara Barnett


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?

It has been a long time since I read a Victorian book, those times offer just a wealth of atmosphere. When I read the synopsis on the back of The Apothecary's Curse my interest was piqued even more. I studied biotech and work with it so the mentioning of genomics part got my very excited. 

From the start of the book Barbara Barnett throws you right in the action. In the first few pages you meet the protagonists of the book: Gaelan Erceldoune an apothecary and Simon Bell a physician. Both Gaelan and Simon are immortal when they drank a potion made from a very special book. A book said to have been made by the fae and which holds magical powers. Simon actually drank the potion to die, Simon and Gaelan made the potion to save Simon's wife who suffered from a terminal disease but failed. Gaelan is later accused of a murder and his apothecary shop and house are burned down, as well as the book of the fae. As Simon and Gaelan are immortal they lived through the years, constantly adapting to the new rules of life. In their present life in Chicago, there is possible lead on the old book that was lost years and years ago. Simon only wants one thing and that is to finally die, but Gaelan has other plans in mind and what if the book falls in the wrong hands, what will happen then? 

As I already said, Barbara Barnett throw you right in the action, her writing style is very enjoyable and easy to pick up. I never heard of Barbara Barnett before picking up this book. The pacing and way of explanation are jut spot on. There is a lot going on in the beginning but she keeps everything nicely structured for you to not miss a thing. 

Another thing that is nicely achieved is the splitting of the timelines in present and past. This is a hard feat to do as it should flow naturally into one another, with the writing style that Barbara Barnett uses it definitely feels this way. Both the past, the Victorian time felt like the real deal as well as the present timeline. Jumping in these different times added a definite dynamic layer to the story. There was never a moment where the story felt as a bore or droning on and on. 

The main characters of The Apothecary's Curse are Simon Bell and Gaelan Erceldoune. The story really shines by the adventures that they have went through and are going through. They personalities are fully bolstered by some of the emotions that they have towards for example the fact of being immortal. 

The Apothecary's Curse is definitely a book that you should check out. A more than rewarding read! 

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