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 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?
The Apothecary’s Curse by Barbara Barnett is definitely a mix of genres,
both classic and modern. The story follows two main characters struggling with
immortality: Simon Bell, once a physician, now an author writing about Sherlock
Holmes, and Gaelan Erceldoune, former apothecary, currently a bookstore owner. In
the past, Bell attempted suicide multiple times, while Erceldoune was captured
and tortured by a mad scientist. Eventually the two unite and spend centuries
searching for an ancient manuscript that might hold the key to reversing the
elixirs which turned them both immortal. Not only does the book contain the
secrets of alchemy, but it’s the only remaining link to Erceldoune’s long-lost
The storyline moves back and forth in time, delivering the backstory in
pieces. At first, the pace is slow and frustrating, but as more mysteries are discovered,
readers are drawn further into a spectacular web of conspiracies and drama. The
glimpses from the past explain how Bell and Erceldoune come to know one another,
while also explaining their shared affliction. The moments in present time reveal
the danger of history repeating itself in the form of a corrupt pharmaceutical
company hunting down Erceldoune.
I enjoyed the intrigue throughout the story, both in their past lives, as
well as their present circumstances. When Erceldoune crosses paths with the geneticist
Dr. Shawe, the addition of her character brings just the right twist, leading
to an unexpected ending. I was so enthralled by the mix of drama and suspense,
I had to read the novel in one sitting.
I think anyone who enjoys mystery-thrillers will enjoy this book.