The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence

April 28th, 2015 Kimberly Review 64 Comments

28th Apr
The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence
The Alchemist's Daughter
by Mary Lawrence
Series: Bianca Goddard Mysteries #1
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” —Fiona Buckley
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 poisoned before 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…

The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence is the first in her new Bianca Goddard Mysteries. The tale takes place during the reign of King Henry VIII and offers a heroine who dabbles in forensics as she tries to exonerate herself from murder charges.

Bianca Goddard is a unique, quirky character who uses her knowledge of herb and medicinal plants to create remedies and sells them to the poor in the Southwark slums.
The trouble begins when Bianca’s friend Jolyn comes to her with stomach cramps. In the middle of creating tonic creams, she instructs her boyfriend to brew a tea to sooth her friend’s stomach. Upon drinking it, Jolyn convulses and dies. Did she do it? Bianca believes someone was poisoning Jolyn but the constable believes Bianca with her knowledge killed Jolyn. Bianca must determine what killed her friend and by whom.

From the dark, bleak descriptions of the slums and establishments to the RATS I am quite determined I will not be taking any trips there in the Tardis! The mystery and characters held me captive despite threats of vermin and disease. I lost myself within its pages and enjoyed the flow of the story. Mary Lawrence brought the period to life. I could smell the waste, and see the folks going about their day. Books set in the Tudor period rarely depict the lower classes and despite my queasy stomach, I enjoyed Lawrence’s attention to detail while keeping the story moving at a steady clip. I love books involving Alchemy but oh, lords do not mention that word around Bianca. She does not consider herself an alchemist but a healer.

There is a thread regarding Bianca’s father and her falling out with her family. It involved imprisonment and is mentioned throughout. I thought perhaps I had missed a book or prequel, but found none. I would have appreciated getting the full story.

The cast of characters from suspects to friends added interest. Each character was colorful and the red herrings kept me guessing. Lawrence delivered a tight plausible mystery and I enjoyed uncovering the clues and participating in Bianca’s experiments. Bianca was a combination of bumbling absent-minded professor and Nancy Drew-MacGyver. I am anxious to spend more time with this meddling sleuth.

While I wanted more details about Bianca and her family, I found The Alchemist’s Daughter to be an engaging mystery. I am looking forward to news on the next installment.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

64 Responses to “The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence”

  1. Sarah

    Ooooh Alchemy is so fun in historical fiction, it’s been so long since I picked up a book with alchemy in the theme. I would be annoyed with the unanswered questions, too, especially when it’s subtly mentioned and then never answered. My curiosity gets the better of me, sometimes! lol Maybe book two will finally answer your questions about her family falling out 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes..but that was the only thread that left me wanting. The mystery and characters were delightful.

  2. Lexxie

    The Alchemist’s Daughter sounds amazing, Kim! I love a good mystery, and if you add in something that’s slightly magic-like, I’m in heaven!
    Bianca sounds like a great character to follow, as do Jolene and the suspects. Having a colorful cast of characters always make things interesting!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I enjoyed the characters and authentic vibe. I am anxious to see what Bianca gets into next.

  3. Mary

    It’s books and time periods such as this one that let me know there’s no way in hell I would have survived back then.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Enjoy…and aren’t we all behind on our reading?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      LOL..I had a similar experience when it arrived in the mail..

  4. Faye

    Well, wow. If there’s one thing that I can say about this book, it’s that it is VIVID. Holy hell, you can really feel and see the rats and waste and disease?! That’s some awesome writing right there. Added this to my TBR!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh you could, and it made you shiver Faye..brilliant writing

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I rarely read mystery, Kim, but a Tudor-era mystery series has me intrigued. I like your description of Bianca – she does sound very resourceful. And I like that Lawrence includes so many details of the period. This one’s going on my tbr, too. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Lawrence did an excellent job..I knew exactly where I was from talk of the plague to city streets.

  6. Candace

    Oh this sounds exactly like something I would love! I love books like this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes..I could see you losing yourself within the pages Candace

  7. Sophia Rose

    Another one to add to the wish list. I love historical murder mysteries. Her knowledge of herbs and stuff reminds me of Brother Cadfael mysteries.

  8. Angela Adams

    “I am anxious to spend more time with this meddling sleuth.” — the author has obviously done a great job with developing a series! Thanks for the post!!

  9. Kathy

    This isn’t necessarily a book that would have crossed my radar, but it looks so interesting. By your review, it really looks like a book I would enjoy. Thanks!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I was impressed Kathy and while I don’t read a lot from this particular period Lawrence brought it to life

  10. Aubrey Wynne

    Oh, oh, oh. I am a Tudor freak. Thanks so much for posting this. I’m stuck in a hotel room next week for 4 days of training. This just gave me something to look forward to. Woot!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh enjoy and then stop back and tell me what you think!

  11. Heidi

    I have no desire to visit this era either. The smells… not to mention the rats… ugh.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am with you Heidi..I like my modern conveniences and medications!

  12. Benish

    I haven’t seen a concept similiar to this book before, I do like how you share books that are completely new to me, wonderful review.

  13. Lanie

    Haha, I’ve noticed every time I pass up a book, you read it an say it’s awesomexD! Guess I have a bad knack for skipping the goods ones.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      LOL..I guess you need to pay more attention to my book hauls..that is funny, but sad. At least you choose different books for me to discover 🙂

      • Lanie

        I really should, lol. Start stalking your shelves like a mad woman xD! This is true, gotta get the word out there bout other stuff.

  14. Trish

    You are right we don’t see a lot of books with this setting and it sounds good. Love this era, shivers at the idea of the R things (I can’t even say the word!) and adds to TRB!

  15. Megan McDade

    This sounds like a great read I love books set in the past. I haven’t went as far back as this book before. I think sounds like a good Read though. I like the alchemists aspect.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is well written and you slide right into the tale from the onset Megan

  16. Ramona

    Another gem, clearly. I don’t know how you find them, but you’ve got an awesome nose for great stories, Kimba. I love good historical fiction that can show and teach me things I don’t already know about the past. Add to it a good mystery and I’m totally sold on it. Great review!

  17. Lauren

    Haha I am constantly thinking how repulsed I would be if I actually could go back in time in the TARDIS. I’d miss too many modern conveniences. Glad this was a good mystery, it sounds interesting! Lovely review!

  18. Rosa

    This book seems very interesting. I love reading historical fiction. The last one I read was Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth – I highly recommend it.

  19. Tyler H. Jolley

    It’s been a minute since I’ve read any historical fiction (aside from what I’ve written), this sounds like a great way to get back into it! Thanks, Kim!

  20. Ro

    This is not an era I would normally read, but dang it, you make it sound absolutely readable. Your reviews are truly fantastic so we know what we’re getting! Hugs…Ro

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Tudor is not my favorite to be sure..but this focused on the lower class and murder 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed, I am curious to see what case Bianca tackles next.

  21. kindlemom1

    There is nothing like a good historical mystery Kim! I’m so glad you read and enjoyed this. I need to look into this one more I think. I just crave these type of reads every now and then.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love that it was a murder mystery Ali and the heroine is one i look forward to seeing grow.

  22. Lauren

    This sounds so good! I’ve not read any historical fiction in a while so may have to give this a read to get back I to them. Will be adding it to my TBR at least.

  23. Nick

    I really do like quirky characters and I definitely think this book has an interesting concept. Isn’t it amazing when an author is able to transport you to another time through their words? This sounds like that kind of book!
    I’ll have to look more into this because it sounds like something I would enjoy even though it’s not my usual genre.
    Great review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really liked the mystery of it and Bianca. I am looking forward to her solving other cases.

  24. Katherine

    This sounds interesting and unique! I do wish the backstory of Bianca and her father was explained a bit more. It always drives me crazy when that happens but it definitely sounds like a worthwhile read. Thanks for sharing!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am hoping for a prequel Katherine. I have a sense of what occurred but I want all the deets.

  25. Braine

    Forensics in this era, interesting concept. I am personal fascinated with how they did case investigations back then.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The way she did this was quite clever, and a little gross..LOL

  26. Melliane

    Oh it sounds so interesting. I have never read a book like that but the topic and the period are so intriguing and different. I want to try now! Thanks for the review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoyed it. From the mysterious death of her friend to the fleshed out world.