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The Apothecary's Curse

Posted by Lee A. Farruga on September 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM

It's been a crazy summer, and I apologize for the absence, but I did find time to read a wonderful new thriller from Pyr Books called The Apothecary's Curse.

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. When it kills her, Simon becomes suicidal and 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, and the only hope of reversing their condition rests with Gaelan’s missing manuscript.


When modern-day pharmaceutical company Genomics unearths diaries describing the torture of an unnamed Bedlam inmate with regenerative powers, the company’s scientists suspect a link with Gaelan after a fatal accident doesn't kill him. Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe become powerfully drawn to each other, and her family connection to his manuscript leads to a stunning revelation. 

This thriller does a fine job of switching between the two time periods to give the reader both Gaelan's and Simon's full stories. Gaelan's is even more intricate and older than the reader is first lead to believe, it makes him a much more interesting character. The author also does a good job of describing Gaelen's flashbacks and nightmares from his time being tortured at Bedlam. It was so bad, that he is still affected hundreds of years later.

And Simon has his own demons to deal with. Well actually his dead wife. Her ghost haunts him into the present. But is she angry because he killed her or is it his own guilt and longing for her that keeps her near him, screaming and taunting him to find a way to bring about his death?

And did I mention there's a wee bit of myth and magic too. But only a little. Most of the book is based on scientific principles and it's quite fascinating on its own, but the magic brings the past and present together and takes the tale on a sharp left turn. 

It's a well conceived tale of two men and their search for release from an accidental condition that's been nothing but trouble and mental anguish. With the addition of some science, some myth, and some mystery, Barbara Barnett has created a wonderful new narrative.

I recommend The Apothecary's Curse. You can get a copy when it goes on sale October 11th.

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