NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Alchemist's Daughter by Mary Lawrence

2.0 out of 5 stars -- A medieval mystery set in Tudor London, this first in the series featuring Bianca Goddard is full of period details that may appeal to certain readers. Bianca lives and works in Southwark in her rent of Medicinals and Physicks, creating balms and potions to aid the suffering folk nearby. When her best friend, Jolyn Carmichael, is poisoned and Bianca is threatened with arrest for murder, Bianca is determined to find out who really killed Jolyn and why.

There's really not much mystery or character development here, but what you get as a reader are details that are enough to make any sensitive person almost retch. The descriptions of the smells alone, the filth, the lack of facilities for hygiene and the general atmosphere of the local town, the living spaces, and pubs made me so happy to live right now, out of that time and place. The sections related to just the rats were enough to almost put me over the edge (this is so far from the castle, the court life, and King Henry VIII) that it definitely told me that I was in the 1500s and worried about Black Death.

Frankly, Bianca was a drag - overwrought prose and melodrama isn't my style and I'm sick of plucky, independent heroines who end up needing rescue by a man who adores them despite being put off a million times for "important work." The vocabulary and dialog didn't ring true for me. I was quite disappointed with this book after all, and will be interested to hear if other fans of this particular niche genre react differently. I won't be following the series but I am glad I finished this one (it was a struggle).

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to review.

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