In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, 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. Pitched as Kate Morton meets The Miniaturist, The Lost Apothecary is a bold work of historical fiction with a feminist twist that heralds the coming of an explosive new talent.

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.

"In The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner convincingly weaves three heroines and two timelines into one tale of poison, revenge, and the silent network of women helping other women in a world stacked against them.... A bold, edgy, accomplished debut!"

—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella waits for 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 customer 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 discovers an old apothecary vial in the River Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London 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.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters, and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating exploration of women rebelling against a man’s world, the destructive force of revenge, and the remarkable ways that women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

More Advance Praise for The Lost Apothecary...

"Penner’s debut had me completely under its spell. The women of The Lost Apothecary, separated by centuries, seek both revenge and truth in this powerful story. Riveting and utterly original." —Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Dollhouse

"Sarah Penner kept me guessing until the last page of this addictive, atmospheric novel about an apothecary, who concocts poisons to help women exact revenge on their men, and the woman who uncovers her secrets over 200 years later. Meticulously researched, The Lost Apothecary is both a cure for idleness and a recipe for intrigue. Prepare to be consumed by this carefully plotted, propulsive debut." —Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays

"Dark, clever, and wickedly fun, The Lost Apothecary is a true page-turner. Sarah Penner has given us a puzzle box of women's lives, betrayal, power, and history. It's a book that slyly asks what any of us deserve and if, sometimes, that might not be a little poison." —Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation

©2020 by Sarah Penner 

Photo credits - Laura Foote Photography

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