2014 Book Reviews

The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce

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‘Out of nowhere the herbalist appears and sets up his stall in the market square. In this dull midlands town the exotic stranger brings glamour and excitement. With his potions and lotions he seems to have a cure for all that ails the townspeople.

Teenager Emily is enchanted. Here is a man to make her forget her lowly status in this place where respectability is everything. The women of the town – the women from the big houses and their maids, the shopkeepers and their serving girls, those of easy virtue and their pious sisters – all seen mesmerised by this visitor who, they say, can perform miracles.

But when Emily discovers the dark side of the man who has obsessed her, once again her world turns upside down. She may be naive and full of foolish dreams, but she has a fierce sense if right and wrong. And with the herbalist’s fate laying in her hands she must make the biggest decision of her young life. To make him pay for his sins against the women of the town? Of let him escape to cast his spell on another town.’

Firstly a massive thank you to Catherine at Penguin for sending me this copy of The Herbalist I really appreciate it.

The Herbalist is a story set in 1930s Ireland where class and religion play a big part in peoples everyday lives so it was interesting to see how they reacted when an exotic stranger suddenly arrives in their rural town with his mysterious potions. We soon see that he has the women of the town flocking to him for his miracle cures but is he what he seems and what exactly is in his potions?

Emily is the first to fall under his spell and she’s utterly convinced that she is in love with him, and that he is in love with her. She believes that they will be together forever. But she’s not the only one that’s vying for his attention, as women from all over and from every class are coming to him for his services. But as Emily soon discovers he has a darker side to him and he’s not all that he seems.

I sadly found this book a real slow starter and it took me a good few chapters to get into it before I actually started to enjoy it and wonder what the herbalist was doing to have all these women after him.

Once I got into the story I found it really grabbed my interest and I quickly got immersed in it. It’s just a shame it took so long for that to happen.

The Herbalist is available in Paperback and on Kindle.


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