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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, B 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. . . . Praise for The Alchemist's Daughter A Night Owls Reviews Top Pick Suspense Magazine Best Historical Mystery 2015 "A complex plot and likeable cast of characters" --Historical Novel Society "the writing is terrific and will keep readers engaged until the very last page...a real page-turner...this is really a good one." --San Francisco Book Review


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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, B 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. . . . Praise for The Alchemist's Daughter A Night Owls Reviews Top Pick Suspense Magazine Best Historical Mystery 2015 "A complex plot and likeable cast of characters" --Historical Novel Society "the writing is terrific and will keep readers engaged until the very last page...a real page-turner...this is really a good one." --San Francisco Book Review

30 review for The Alchemist's Daughter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    breezed through this book very quickly, reading it in a matter of hours. At times the language did slow me down as the author added as much authenticity to the slang and pronunciations as possible without losing the reader in the process. I thought this was a nice touch and added more atmosphere and realism. Still, this is a very easy read, very different from the usual procedural type mystery making it especially fun to read. I am thankful this novel is a part of a series featuring Bianca beca breezed through this book very quickly, reading it in a matter of hours. At times the language did slow me down as the author added as much authenticity to the slang and pronunciations as possible without losing the reader in the process. I thought this was a nice touch and added more atmosphere and realism. Still, this is a very easy read, very different from the usual procedural type mystery making it especially fun to read. I am thankful this novel is a part of a series featuring Bianca because this book has made me a fan. This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the review in it's entirety please visit http://www.nightowlreviews.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    I picked up this book solely on the blurb and cover alone. I thought it was a cozy mystery but instead, The Alchemist's Daughter is strictly historical fiction. Not that I mind reading historical fiction, but I was in the mood for a light mystery. I never really got into Bianca's head and found myself skimming over parts. That being said, Lawrence has done her research and is historically accurate in all facets of the story. Impressive consider the time period (Tudor England). If you love histor I picked up this book solely on the blurb and cover alone. I thought it was a cozy mystery but instead, The Alchemist's Daughter is strictly historical fiction. Not that I mind reading historical fiction, but I was in the mood for a light mystery. I never really got into Bianca's head and found myself skimming over parts. That being said, Lawrence has done her research and is historically accurate in all facets of the story. Impressive consider the time period (Tudor England). If you love historical fiction, please read this book. I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. My Rating: 2.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    ☕ Kimberly

    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 th 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. Copy provided by publisher. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer

  4. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    2.0 out of 5 stars -- A medieval mystery set in Tudor London, this first in the series featuring Bianca Goddard is full of period details that may appeal to certain readers. Bianca lives and works in Southwark in her rent of Medicinals and Physicks, creating balms and potions to aid the suffering folk nearby. When her best friend, Jolyn Carmichael, is poisoned and Bianca is threatened with arrest for murder, Bianca is determined to find out who really killed Jolyn and why. There's really not muc 2.0 out of 5 stars -- A medieval mystery set in Tudor London, this first in the series featuring Bianca Goddard is full of period details that may appeal to certain readers. Bianca lives and works in Southwark in her rent of Medicinals and Physicks, creating balms and potions to aid the suffering folk nearby. When her best friend, Jolyn Carmichael, is poisoned and Bianca is threatened with arrest for murder, Bianca is determined to find out who really killed Jolyn and why. There's really not much mystery or character development here, but what you get as a reader are details that are enough to make any sensitive person almost retch. The descriptions of the smells alone, the filth, the lack of facilities for hygiene and the general atmosphere of the local town, the living spaces, and pubs made me so happy to live right now, out of that time and place. The sections related to just the rats were enough to almost put me over the edge (this is so far from the castle, the court life, and King Henry VIII) that it definitely told me that I was in the 1500s and worried about Black Death. Frankly, Bianca was a drag - overwrought prose and melodrama isn't my style and I'm sick of plucky, independent heroines who end up needing rescue by a man who adores them despite being put off a million times for "important work." The vocabulary and dialog didn't ring true for me. I was quite disappointed with this book after all, and will be interested to hear if other fans of this particular niche genre react differently. I won't be following the series but I am glad I finished this one (it was a struggle). Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    The Alchemist's Daughter is an enjoyable mystery. Bianca Goddard, daughter of an infamous alchemist in 16th century London, is falsely accused of murdering her friend, Jolyn. Bianca must use her medicinal knowledge in order to solve Jolyn's murder.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... Mary Lawrence’s The Alchemist’s Daughter has been on my TBR longer than I care to admit. I received an ARC in 2015, but only got round to picking it up this summer. The premise intrigued me, but for one reason or another the book never demanded my immediate attention. Interestingly, my sentiments have not been altered by actually reading the novel. I mean no offense, but the telling struck me as rather bland. The mystery unfo Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... Mary Lawrence’s The Alchemist’s Daughter has been on my TBR longer than I care to admit. I received an ARC in 2015, but only got round to picking it up this summer. The premise intrigued me, but for one reason or another the book never demanded my immediate attention. Interestingly, my sentiments have not been altered by actually reading the novel. I mean no offense, but the telling struck me as rather bland. The mystery unfolded in a loosely related series of events, but it lacked the tension and urgency I crave. I pieced it all together early on and spent most of the book waiting for the characters to catch up and the author to deliver her point. Unfortunately, the climax fell flat and I was left wondering why I’d bothered sticking it out. Character development was thin beginning to end, but I was intensely frustrated with Bianca. The attitudes of Lawrence’s heroine struck me as anachronistic and I was frustrated by the depth of her scientific understanding which seemed to exceed the capacities of the day. I was also annoyed with how irrelevant the story felt when all the details came to light. I don’t want to give anything away, but Bianca Goddard and Jolyn Carmichael seemed removed from much of the drama and I couldn’t help feeling they were minor characters in the affair. Looking back, the only aspect I truly appreciated was Lawrence’s descriptions of life in under Henry VIII’s rule. This is not Gregory’s glittering court or Mantel’s political pit of vipers. Bianca and her fellows live in London’s rat infested streets and though I know the graphic descriptions wont appeal to everyone, I personally applauded the author for daring to incorporate such vulgar realities into her narrative. There are now three Bianca Goddard Mysteries and while I liked The Alchemist's Daughter well enough, I do not think I’ll be continuing the series. I’ll certainly recommend it to fans of Tudor era fiction, but personally I need a little more meat in my mysteries and don’t think I’ll find it here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    My copy courtesy of Kensington Books/NetGalley - much thanks! A "warts and all" historical mystery, rather than a cosy. It was OK, I guess - probably about 2 1/2 stars. I didn't much like, or much care about, the main character, which didn't help. For a further review: http://susannag.booklikes.com/post/11... .

  8. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Lord

    The year is 1543, the place is that messy, slummy, open sewer pit known as London. Amid the dank corners and diseased populace living during the reign of Henry VIII and his final wife is Bianca Goddard, 17-year-old proprietor of medicinals and physickes. Bright, cheery, and savvy, Bianca is caught up in a misadventure in which she is forced to prove her innocence after a good friend is poisoned to death (though the victim also sports “a purplish ring around her neck” from being throttled). The c The year is 1543, the place is that messy, slummy, open sewer pit known as London. Amid the dank corners and diseased populace living during the reign of Henry VIII and his final wife is Bianca Goddard, 17-year-old proprietor of medicinals and physickes. Bright, cheery, and savvy, Bianca is caught up in a misadventure in which she is forced to prove her innocence after a good friend is poisoned to death (though the victim also sports “a purplish ring around her neck” from being throttled). The constable needs a convenient target for the murder, and Bianca fits the bill. Such a classic plot requires some pretty special writing to overcome its plainness, and luckily Lawrence (Death of an Alchemist) offers that in spades. This is not a romanticized London. Wretches die of wasting infections, people literally rake the muck of the Thames to find things of value, and people’s lives are small, short, and cheap. Bianca’s friends are similar misfits and, like many of the era, have deformities (her friend Banes, for example, has a useless arm and no thumb). Two factors greatly increase this title’s value to dudes: 1.) Vocab building (e.g., wherry, purgative, poniard, anlace, etc.). 2.) Fantastic insults (e.g., “piss sniffer,” “puffed-up prillywig,” etc.). Whereas some historical fiction bristles with self-importance, this novel eschews it to excellent effect. An eerie subplot involving a creepy, rat-eating boatman is captivating. VERDICT The strong female character in this YA crossover with massive authenticity is just smart enough to be charming without being precious or terribly unrealistic. Find reviews of books for men at Books for Dudes, Books for Dudes, the online reader's advisory column for men from Library Journal. Copyright Library Journal.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Lilly

    In The Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Lawrence brings the world of London 1543 to dark life. It begins with the rats. Rats may have been more numerous than people in that era. As the story opens, someone is collecting the vermin for an unseemly purpose. Bianca Goddard, the main character, lives a precarious existence, a 16th century equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck. She creates potions and salves to cure her customers of what ails them. One of her biggest customers runs a house of ill repute In The Alchemist’s Daughter, Mary Lawrence brings the world of London 1543 to dark life. It begins with the rats. Rats may have been more numerous than people in that era. As the story opens, someone is collecting the vermin for an unseemly purpose. Bianca Goddard, the main character, lives a precarious existence, a 16th century equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck. She creates potions and salves to cure her customers of what ails them. One of her biggest customers runs a house of ill repute where Bianca’s best friend Jolyn was employed. Jolyn is engaged in a relationship with a well-to-do gentleman and is about to embark on a fairy tale life. The fairy tale is cut short when she dies suddenly in Bianca’s apartment. Due to the circumstances surrounding her death, Bianca becomes the prime suspect, and must solve the mystery of her friend’s death or face the gallows herself. As the story unfolds, Bianca goes deeper into London’s underworld and discovers the secret of the rat collector. She’s accused of witchcraft, and ends up in a place no one would ever want to go. Once she escapes, she has to go back to that place again to prove her innocence and to prove what dark events are happening in the London shipyards. This is a well-done mystery, with plenty of twists and turns. The language, customs, and events are all authentic to the time, proving the author did her research. Bianca Goddard stands out as a woman ahead of her era, pursuing herbal studies and a career, preferring to support herself rather than marry young. This novel is a perfect choice for readers who enjoy Tudor history and mysteries with a strong female protagonist. Full disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    The characters felt more like plot-necessary characteristics lumped together than actual people. The Spunky Independent Smart Girl with the writers-manual-mandated flaw - in this case, untidiness rather than the usual clumsiness. And who, of course, despite being born in Tudor London, has morals and beliefs that fit very neatly into our own time. The Handsome Devoted Love Interest, who continues to adore her despite constantly being pushed aside. Throw in the Lazy Cop With Amusing Speech Patterns, The characters felt more like plot-necessary characteristics lumped together than actual people. The Spunky Independent Smart Girl with the writers-manual-mandated flaw - in this case, untidiness rather than the usual clumsiness. And who, of course, despite being born in Tudor London, has morals and beliefs that fit very neatly into our own time. The Handsome Devoted Love Interest, who continues to adore her despite constantly being pushed aside. Throw in the Lazy Cop With Amusing Speech Patterns, the Randy Drinker With Amusing Name, and Strange Disabled Boy In The Attic, and you've got a full cast. The plot itself, although meandering, had the potential to be interesting, but was let down by not being completely solved. (view spoiler)[Why was the warehouse full of corpses and rats? Was it all about destroying the family business? There was no prior hint of him wanting to destroy the family business. (hide spoiler)] The Rat Man seemed to suggest there was going to be a supernatural element, but nothing came of it, so I'm not sure what he was there for. I managed to get to the end, but I consider that something of an achievement.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kimber

    Taking place during the reign of King Henry VIII, The Alchemist's Daughter doesn't concern itself with the glitz and glamour of court but rather the grim reality of common living on the streets of 16th century London. Bianca Goddard does not consider herself an alchemist. That is the territory of her morally questionable estranged father. Instead Bianca concentrates on finding medicines, cures and salves for the commoners of London and Southwark. When her best friend, Jolyn, drops dead shortly a Taking place during the reign of King Henry VIII, The Alchemist's Daughter doesn't concern itself with the glitz and glamour of court but rather the grim reality of common living on the streets of 16th century London. Bianca Goddard does not consider herself an alchemist. That is the territory of her morally questionable estranged father. Instead Bianca concentrates on finding medicines, cures and salves for the commoners of London and Southwark. When her best friend, Jolyn, drops dead shortly after being administered one of Bianca's concoctions, her insecurities about her chosen profession rival only the fact that she now must clear herself of a murder charge in order to avoid the pit that is The Clink or her head on a pike hanging from London Bridge. Mary Lawrence's debut novel starts quickly and never drops off pace. Readers follow along as Bianca and her medley of friends, John, Meddybumps, Banes and others, both help and hinder her investigation; one full of unexpected turns and twists that show the gritty, dark side of street living in the shadow of the King. I was given this book for free by the author with the intent to read and review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I won an advance copy of this book from Goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed Mary Lawrence's descriptions of 16th century London. Lawrence paints a realistic picture of what London was like for the poor and I liked that she focuses on a class of society that is rarely explored in books. The book was easy to read and found myself unable to put the book down towards the end, wanting to figure the mystery out. Lawrence included a somewhat unorganized back story about the main characters parents that I woul I won an advance copy of this book from Goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed Mary Lawrence's descriptions of 16th century London. Lawrence paints a realistic picture of what London was like for the poor and I liked that she focuses on a class of society that is rarely explored in books. The book was easy to read and found myself unable to put the book down towards the end, wanting to figure the mystery out. Lawrence included a somewhat unorganized back story about the main characters parents that I would have liked to have seen explored either in a prequel or latter on in this series. I felt that I was coming in on a second book of a series rather than a first. I would definitely read a second novel and recommend this book mystery and/or historical fiction readers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    The story is set during the reign of King Henry VIII so there's a fair amount of squalor depicted and you get a whole new appreciation for indoor plumbing, electricity, etc! Bianca Goddard is in the lower rungs of society but she manages to eke out a living concocting herbal remedies for the poor and unfortunate. Her friend, Jolyn, comes to her one day complaining of severe abdominal pain and cramping. Bianca puts together a tried and true remedy for her friend who promptly dies on the spot. Now The story is set during the reign of King Henry VIII so there's a fair amount of squalor depicted and you get a whole new appreciation for indoor plumbing, electricity, etc! Bianca Goddard is in the lower rungs of society but she manages to eke out a living concocting herbal remedies for the poor and unfortunate. Her friend, Jolyn, comes to her one day complaining of severe abdominal pain and cramping. Bianca puts together a tried and true remedy for her friend who promptly dies on the spot. Now Bianca has to figure out who actually poisoned Jolyn in order to save herself from the gallows. Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tara Kable

    I received an ARC copy of this from netgalley in return for an honest review. This book took a minute for me to get into, but only because it was written as if we were in the 1600's...which we were, so thats a good thing, just unusual. I love the idea of potions and spells, and this one had a really good who done it! Thank you netgalley!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Shropshire

    3.5 stars. This features a really interesting main protagonist, a female chemist whose father was an alchemist and whose mother was a traditional herbalist. Ms. Lawrence definitely does NOT romanticize Tudor London - it's gritty and smelly and life is very cheap. If you're squeamish about rats, you may not want to read this one. I'm not squeamish about much, but the scene with the Rat Man eating a raw rat was a bit much even for me. *shudders* Nevertheless, really engaging characters (I loved Me 3.5 stars. This features a really interesting main protagonist, a female chemist whose father was an alchemist and whose mother was a traditional herbalist. Ms. Lawrence definitely does NOT romanticize Tudor London - it's gritty and smelly and life is very cheap. If you're squeamish about rats, you may not want to read this one. I'm not squeamish about much, but the scene with the Rat Man eating a raw rat was a bit much even for me. *shudders* Nevertheless, really engaging characters (I loved Meddybumps!) and an interesting mystery, so I will keep reading this series.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Bianca is a young lady who is the daughter of an alchemist (hence the title), she does not follow in his footsteps per se, but instead chooses to make her living concocting remedies to heal the sick and ailing, induce miscarriages and poison to kill rats. One day, her friend Jolyn comes by Bianca's small rent, complaining of a stomach ache; and after drinking a herbal tea concocted by Bianca, then drops down dead in front of her, apparently the result of poisoning. Due to the nature of Jolyn's d Bianca is a young lady who is the daughter of an alchemist (hence the title), she does not follow in his footsteps per se, but instead chooses to make her living concocting remedies to heal the sick and ailing, induce miscarriages and poison to kill rats. One day, her friend Jolyn comes by Bianca's small rent, complaining of a stomach ache; and after drinking a herbal tea concocted by Bianca, then drops down dead in front of her, apparently the result of poisoning. Due to the nature of Jolyn's death Bianca is accused of her murder, and unless she wants to find herself thrown in the horrific 'Clink' or publicly Hanged, sets about proving herself innocent of the crime. In this, Bianca ends up unravelling a real mystery and finding the true culprit whist avoiding the suspicious and semi-corrupt Patch (local police who is determined to see Bianca pay for this crime. Bianca is joined and assisted by a wonderful collection of colourful characters in her journey, some of them appear to want to do Bianca harm, others are eager to help her. The plot moves along at a fast pace, and I was reluctant to put the book down until the mystery was resolved. Other reviews have stated that the descriptions of the 'poverty, filth, smells, disease, the lack of sanitation and the utter lack of human kindness depicted in the book would put them off reading further books in the series', However, contrary to this, I really enjoyed the detailed descriptions of life at the time, that the 'average, common folk' of Tudor times would face on a daily basis. In my experience, most of Tudor fiction is surrounding life at court, the glitz and the glamour, the rich food and clothes, not often is a true picture painted of the reality of life in those years, when sanitation was poor, disease was rife, and foul smells would have been abundant in the Capital, down by the Thames. In my opinion, it is a skill of any author to capture that feeling, whether or not the smells/descriptions of life are pleasant. Although the book is set during the last years of Henry VIII's reign, there is little mentioned regarding this, and as such that fact could almost be neglected, aside from the fact her father was accused once of attempting to poison the King, (A prequel on How Bianca set about proving her Father's innocence would be very interesting as it sets the whole tone for this first book). Mary Lawrence has done a wonderful job, of developing the personalities of her characters, she has given us a likeable, strong female lead character in Bianca, and her supporting characters - John and Meddybemps - are equally as engaging, who held my interest, throughout the book, not just 'page fillers' and I am keen to read further books in the series to see how these characters and their relationships develop, as well as seeing what other adventures Bianca finds herself caught up in. I received this ARC from the author via Goodreads, all comments and views are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    There has always been a lot of interest in Tudor England during the reign of Henry VIII. In recent years there have been books, movies and TV shows that explored that turbulent time. Mostly there has been depiction of the royals of that time when there seemed to be endless intrigues and plots. You could be in high regard with King Henry at one point and then fall out of favor and be executed without a trial. Life was very precarious in the mid 1500's. The people at the bottom rung of society had There has always been a lot of interest in Tudor England during the reign of Henry VIII. In recent years there have been books, movies and TV shows that explored that turbulent time. Mostly there has been depiction of the royals of that time when there seemed to be endless intrigues and plots. You could be in high regard with King Henry at one point and then fall out of favor and be executed without a trial. Life was very precarious in the mid 1500's. The people at the bottom rung of society had a much tougher life than those of noble birth. The laws of the land and awful living conditions made it a daily struggle just to survive. Bianca Goddard is one of those who live in less than favorable conditions. She does have to gift of being able to craft medicinals. This is usually a blessing for those around her, but it becomes a curse after her best friend dies after drinking a potion that was supposed to help abdominal cramping. Bianca is accused of poisoning her friend and she is afraid she will be put to death before the real killer can be found. THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER by Mary Lawrence is the first in a mystery series. Bianca is a strong, brave women who must look out for herself in difficult situations. She does have some friends to help her. One of the most helpful is Meddybemps, a street seller. He has a lot of street smarts and adds some comic relief to a sometimes dark, gritty tale. Historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres in recent years. I always learn new things about eras gone by. Mary Lawrence has done deep research on the common people's lives in Tudor England. Besides being truly engaged in the story, I learned where the terms "muckraker" and "the Clink" originated. If you like mysteries and/or historical fiction, you will want to pick up a copy of THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER by Mary Lawrence. I am looking forward to the second novel in this series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gaele

    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. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the story of Bianca, living hand to mouth in the lower rungs of society, making her living with potions and remedies. 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 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. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the story of Bianca, living hand to mouth in the lower rungs of society, making her living with potions and remedies. 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. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Mary Lawrence combines history and fiction with fascinating alchemy—all the more intriguing because the heroine of her fast-paced mystery, the first in the Bianca Goddard series, set during the late days of Henry VIII’s reign, is daughter to an alchemist, although Bianca claims to be a chemist, a maker of remedies. Lawrence is adept at putting fulsome smells, early scientific methods and sanitary practices of the time into the broader Tudor class structure and giving a picture of how Bianca and Mary Lawrence combines history and fiction with fascinating alchemy—all the more intriguing because the heroine of her fast-paced mystery, the first in the Bianca Goddard series, set during the late days of Henry VIII’s reign, is daughter to an alchemist, although Bianca claims to be a chemist, a maker of remedies. Lawrence is adept at putting fulsome smells, early scientific methods and sanitary practices of the time into the broader Tudor class structure and giving a picture of how Bianca and her friends at the poor end of society survived. Lawrence gives us with gusto a sense of language at the time, the bawdy humor, desperate circumstances, cruel laws and errant enforcers of the laws. The plot is well crafted with surprising twists and hair-raising suspenseful moments such as the unexpected effect of one of Bianca’s remedies on her best friend, numerous ups and downs in her relationship with the man in her life, hair-raising run-ins with the law and unfortunate encounters with particularly odious traps from which she must escape. The periodic misty appearance of a figure who could be a muckraker (literally) or the figure of death watching a ship with silk to trade try to unload bodies of plague victims into skiff on the filthy Thames is an effective metaphor. Language samples: “a drunk winking off in his grog,” “his humor might be slightly tarnished, but the coin in his purse was decidedly not,” “she was thin as frost,” “The steeple of St. Paul’s peeps over the city wall as he nears the mouth of the Fleet, flanked by massive Bridewell—abandoned by Henry for his preferred palace to the west….London—its jumble of brick and mortar housing a warren of crowded, slumbering souls.” Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie Barrett

    The Alchemist's Daughter by Mary Lawrence Wanted to read this book to find out exactly what her career is all about. Starts out near the city of London 1549's and Bianca is a person who mixes herbs and spices and creates concuctions to help cure people and to rid others of pests-rats. Loved hearing how and why she mixed things, She learned a lot from her parents when it came to the mixing. Her best friend shows up one day as she's mixing things and is complaining about pains in her stomach. Their The Alchemist's Daughter by Mary Lawrence Wanted to read this book to find out exactly what her career is all about. Starts out near the city of London 1549's and Bianca is a person who mixes herbs and spices and creates concuctions to help cure people and to rid others of pests-rats. Loved hearing how and why she mixed things, She learned a lot from her parents when it came to the mixing. Her best friend shows up one day as she's mixing things and is complaining about pains in her stomach. Their friend John is also there-he's a journeyman to become a silversmith. Jocylyn ends up dying but not before she tells of her suitor. At the service they are able to figoue out who she was referring to. Probleem is she died at Bianca's and the cops think she is to blame. She avoids being arrested but is tailing another as the clues pile up pointing in the direction of a high power person. She also is running low on time to figure out what posions killed her friend-she tries some on herself and lucky John and Meddlyt is there to help her. Devastation as she is dragged to jail and with her friends they are able to continue her clues and find new leads. Rats feasting on piles of bodies sent shivers through me but I really enjoyed the story, plot and characters. Seems this is a series of Bianca's days but this read as a stand alone book. Look forward to reading more. I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I love reading books about the olden days of England, why I don't know, but I'm certainly glad I didn't live back then!! Ditches full of sewage, sleeping on straw, if you were lucky, and stale bread seemed to be a staple. No thanks. Anyhow, The first chapter of this book had me going huh? But after that, the mysteries just kept coming left and right. There are so many secrets in this book, I just enjoyed discovering what they all were. I do have to say, all the rats, okay they got to me, but I t I love reading books about the olden days of England, why I don't know, but I'm certainly glad I didn't live back then!! Ditches full of sewage, sleeping on straw, if you were lucky, and stale bread seemed to be a staple. No thanks. Anyhow, The first chapter of this book had me going huh? But after that, the mysteries just kept coming left and right. There are so many secrets in this book, I just enjoyed discovering what they all were. I do have to say, all the rats, okay they got to me, but I tried not to think about what was happening and just trudged along enjoying the story. I think it was an excellent read with good character development and lots of twists. And man, were people mean back in those days. Another reason I wouldn't want to have lived in that era. That being said, I highly recommend this book!! There's mystery, suspense, mayhem, secrets, something about a ring and even a little romance. I want to thank Kensington Books and Net Galley for providing me with this free e-galley to read and review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Crockett

    Mary Lawrence is an artist. Period. What a treat to read someone with such a command of the English language. "Soon this sleeping maiden of a city will stretch her toes and yawn. But there is still enough dark that he may only be seen as a hooded figure standing in his wherry. No one can see his arms as thin as bones or his skin as gray and pale as the moon." Beautiful. I would give this book ten stars if I could just for the descriptions alone. And an amazing job with bringing 16th century Lond Mary Lawrence is an artist. Period. What a treat to read someone with such a command of the English language. "Soon this sleeping maiden of a city will stretch her toes and yawn. But there is still enough dark that he may only be seen as a hooded figure standing in his wherry. No one can see his arms as thin as bones or his skin as gray and pale as the moon." Beautiful. I would give this book ten stars if I could just for the descriptions alone. And an amazing job with bringing 16th century London to life. Highly recommend.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Jund

    Mary Lawrence's debut release of her Bianca Goddard series! I enjoyed it very much! England 1543, Bianca only wants to prepare "Medicinals and Physickes" to help those in need inhabiting the shores of both London and Southwark. Being the daughter of a known alchemist out to discover the formula to the Philosopher's Stone may cause her more harm than expected. Murder is in the air, and will she end up as suspect?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Calvin Rinck

    Historical fiction has always been a bit of a hit or miss for me. I've often found authors taking liberties that are just so unbelievable as to completely turn me off from the story. That being said, the attention to detail and overall use of true period language is both refreshing and commendable for a first time author. With a memorable cast of characters centered around an intriguing murder mystery, I found this novel to be an engaging read that left me excited for the sequel. Well done.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ann Bright

    Great book. Anyone interested in history and mystery with lots of details about what it must have been like to live in slum London in Tudor times will like this book. Those times certainly weren't a bed of roses. History teachers looking for something different from a text book will find some unusual words, and reality in abundance! Looking forward to the next one.....

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ken Cook

    Well plotted, engaging, informative/educational. Bianca, the title figure, leads a broad cast of well-drawn characters through this entertaining novel set in London and Southwark set late in the reign of Henry VIII.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marjolein

    Full review to come!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    not my usual cup of tea, but quite well written, and written by a maine author, no less!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)

    In the last year’s of King Henry VIII’s reign, Bianca Goddard is an unusual young woman. Living away from her parents and making her own living, in many ways she has been born 400 years too early. Bianca uses her knowledge of medicinal herbs from her mother and chemistry from her alchemist father to make salves, teas, and simples to sell, making herself a decent, if not rich, life. When her friend Jolyn dies during a seizure in Bianca’s home right after drinking a medicinal tea for stomach cramp In the last year’s of King Henry VIII’s reign, Bianca Goddard is an unusual young woman. Living away from her parents and making her own living, in many ways she has been born 400 years too early. Bianca uses her knowledge of medicinal herbs from her mother and chemistry from her alchemist father to make salves, teas, and simples to sell, making herself a decent, if not rich, life. When her friend Jolyn dies during a seizure in Bianca’s home right after drinking a medicinal tea for stomach cramps, all fingers point at Banca as a poisoner. Furthering this belief, a year earlier her father had been involved in a plot to poison the King, but was exonerated during an investigation by Bianca. It was this event that caused the final rift between Bianca and her parents, leading to her setting up her own home. With a cast of characters including Meddybumps, the smooth-talking salesman of the market, and John, her childhood friend and apprentice silversmith, Bianca works against time to discover who would want Joslyn dead, and discovers a plethora of shady characters including a former madame, Joslyn’s married suitor with a sketchy shipping business, and a rival for the businessman’s attentions. There is much skulking through dark alleys, visiting smoky pubs, and slogging along the muddy banks of the Thames, making a strong picture of everyday life in Southwark, just across London Bridge from the glittering life of Henry’s court. I have read many novels of the Tudor courts, but this is the first to give a strong picture of the other side of life during this time. Bianca’s ingenuity, single-minded focus, and attention to the details of her experiments, lead her not only into some scary and dangerous situations, but to the answer to all her questions in the end. I liked Bianca as a character and person. Although she insists on her independence and runs all over the shady sections of Southwark, she exhibits vulnerability when overwhelmed by information or horrifying sights. Bianca is also able to stop and think about the intentions of others and the other side of a situation. Her boyfriend, John, is not, and often sulks like a child, before returning to assist Bianca. He becomes jealous when she follows another man, not realizing that she is suspicious and looking for answers. There are some historical anomalies in The Alchemist’s Daughter that force the reader to suspend disbelief. For example, all of the characters can read, and not just enough to get by within their own professions. Bianca lives alone and wanders the streets alone after dark, but is never accosted except for some teasing. As a regular reader of historical fiction, I appreciated the sprinkling of old terminology and language, however, I think a glossary would be helpful for some readers. A general map of London at the time would be nice, too, although there is no way to have one specifically of Southwark. I think I say this about almost every historical fiction novel I read! The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first of the Bianca Goddard mysteries, so as readers we are learning the characters and setting for future novels. However, it also reads like a second or third novel, often referencing the prior situation of Bianca’s father and his involvement in the plot against the king. I would not be surprised at a future novel about that case, and I would definitely read it. Overall, a nice mystery that gives readers a chance to figure out “who-dunnit” along with Bianca, while learning about the underside of the opulent Tudor life of historical record. I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristobelle

    See the complete review posted on Book Frivolity. Check out other Fantasy and Historical Fiction ruminations there as well! POV's: Multiple Narrative: Third Person, Omniscient, Subjective I must admit, I am a total sucker for historical mysteries, especially ones that are set in the poorer classes of Britain before the 20th century. There is always an added sense of character to those who have to struggle to survive, an extra sense of curiosity and cunning. Especially when the protagonist, Bianca, See the complete review posted on Book Frivolity. Check out other Fantasy and Historical Fiction ruminations there as well! POV's: Multiple Narrative: Third Person, Omniscient, Subjective I must admit, I am a total sucker for historical mysteries, especially ones that are set in the poorer classes of Britain before the 20th century. There is always an added sense of character to those who have to struggle to survive, an extra sense of curiosity and cunning. Especially when the protagonist, Bianca, is an independent female, making her own way with her cleverness and determination. I am also a total sucker for historical stories of healers, herbalists and chemists, so The Alchemist's Daughter scores pretty high on my 'pleasure reading' list! This is a really fun murder mystery with a dash of added romance (with the funniest sex scene I think I've ever read!) and a teeny sprinkling of the supernatural. I wouldn't say it's the most factually in-depth Historical Fiction set during the Tudor era, but then it didn't really need to be as it is essentially character driven. It does use it's time in place well to illuminate the social status of the characters, the struggles they'd need to endure to keep from starving, and how those struggles essentially mold them into who they are. I did like that the author admitted that some of the lingo and expressions were her imaginings of the time period, used to try and bolster the fictional aspect. I think it shows her respect for the history, and her own integrity. I give kudos for that! The majority characters are quite humorously portrayed, some almost caricatures, but essentially it's the kind hearted rogues vs. the very disagreeable nobles and their lackies, with a healthy dose of scorn for the overly zealous, yet incompetent authorities. Sometimes the side characters stole the show right out from Bianca, with their larger than life personalities. It was great to be able to laugh out loud, when the surrounds and circumstance are actually pretty dire. Plus the contrasts between Bianca's very serious demeanour and say, Meddybumps' rather comical one show that Lawrence can contrive a cast of very diverse characters, even in a fairly small volume. The mystery aspect held really well. Although parts were obvious quite early, the details of why and how were all held tight, and metered out nicely right up to the very end. A couple of twists and turns kept it tight and interesting. So, why only 3.5? I am a bit of a hard case when it comes to keeping control of characters in omni when there are multiple subjective POV's in the one scene. It's just really uncomfortable to be whiplashed from one character to the next in quick succession,  which does happen in certain sections of the book. It doesn't afflict the whole book, there just needs to be some thought police during the sections when the action picks up. Nearing the end there is some pretty rapid head jumping, which I find a bit of a cardinal sin. Other than that, this is a fast paced and enjoyable read, ranging from serious issues to comic relief all in one great little mystery! Perfect for rainy Autumn afternoons and copious amounts of hot cinnamon tea! I will be picking up more Bianca Goddard books in the future! Harcopy Worthy? I'd like to read the next in the series just to check, but I think so!

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