I’m obsessed with all things historical, and the Tudors have to be close to the top of that list. Mary Lawrence has introduced a new series, Bianca Goddard Mysteries, set near the end of Henry’s reign. This is the story of Bianca, living hand to mouth in the lower rungs of society, making her living with potions and remedies.
The Alchemist’s Daughter
While her skills are solid, her position in society is tenuous, increasingly so after the death of her friend Jolyn in her apartment after being treated for a stomach ailment.
Bianca must find the true cause of Jolyn’s death, and as she searches, we are treated to descriptions and details of the London of the time, with the lack of sanitation, bathing, wealth and an overabundance of rats. While the mystery was fairly clear-cut, Lawrence uses historical detail and language to transport the reader TO the time. This allows readers to savor the story and find the music in the language, and I did savor every moment.
Inclusions of customs, superstitions and the underbelly of society the period details are rich and varied. The Rat collector, accusations of witchcraft, and the general sense of mistrust of the strong and independent woman that is Bianca. All these details add background without overloading the reader with unnecessary detail, the feel of the day is incorporated without fanfare or notice.
Truly a cozier murder mystery given depth by the lovely character build for Bianca and the rhythm that comes from the language choice, this story that was hard to put down, and sure to appeal to fans of historic fiction.
Title: The Alchemist's Daughter
Author: Mary Lawrence
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: Kensington
Published on: 28 April, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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In the year 1543 of King Henry VIII’s turbulent reign, the daughter of a notorious alchemist finds herself suspected of cold-blooded murder…
Bianca Goddard employs her knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants to concoct remedies for the disease-riddled poor in London’s squalid Southwark slum. But when her friend Jolyn comes to her complaining of severe stomach pains, Bianca’s prescription seems to kill her on the spot. Recovering from her shock, Bianca suspects Jolyn may have been poisonedbefore coming to her—but the local constable is not so easily convinced.
To clear her name and keep her neck free of the gallows, Bianca must apply her knowledge of the healing arts to deduce exactly how her friend was murdered and by whom—before she herself falls victim to a similar fate…
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.