The Apothecary's Curse
by Barbara Barnett
Cover Artist: Galen Dara
Review by Gayle Surrette
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781633882331
Date: 11 October 2016 List Price $17.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Many books deal with a character who is immortal without actually dealing with the problems an immortal would have traveling about in the world and hiding their condition from non-immortals. Yes, some authors have used limitations which immortals would face in their works but The Apothecary's Curse by Barbara Barnett takes such limitations up several notches.
The Apothecary's Curse is the story of Gaelan Erceldoune, owner of Rare Books and Antiquities, close to Chicago's North Shore. When the story opens in 1902, London, England, Gaelan is a friend of Dr. Simon Bell at a dinner with Dr. Joseph Bell and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as other guests. From here there are flash backs and flash forwards to fill in the information we need when in Chicago in 2016.
Times change and yet those who are different are usually wise not to let others know of their uniqueness. The horrors that Gaelan has experienced over his lifetime still haunt him. Only one other knows Gaelan's secret as he shares the same affliction, though they deal with the problems and difficulties quite differently.
I wish I could be more specific but to do so would be to add too many spoilers. I will say the characters are very well defined and fully fleshed out. The story is engrossing and keeps the pages turning. I will warn that there are some fairly graphic scenes of torture and others that, while you don't live them vicariously through the text, just knowing what was probably going on could upset some people. However, there's also love, romance, friendships, and kindness--the good to offset the bad.
All in all, I found The Apothecary's Curse a book that supplies a well-told tale, but also raises a number of philosophical issues that are not so easy to put aside after you finish the book. Just the type of book that I relish as I get entertained and pushed to think of topics that are relevant to today, but not so often considered.