Apricots and Wolfsbane

Written by K.M. Pohlkamp
Review by Nicole Evelina

There aren’t many opportunities for educated women in Tudor England outside of the convent or royal court, but twenty-something Lavinia Maude carves out a unique niche for herself. Having lost her parents as a teen, she uses her knowledge of herbology and poisons to build a career as one of the few female assassins. As her victims and clients increase in stature from commoners to nobility, so do the risks to her life and her heart. When the local magistrate begins to suspect she might be behind the death of an Earl, Lavinia must decide what she is willing to risk: her faith, her life, her heart, or all three?

If you ever wondered what it would be like if Sweeney Todd had a conscience (and no need for Mrs. Lovett’s pies) or what would happen to Robin LaFevers’ assassin nuns if they weren’t in the convent, this book will give you a taste. In this impeccably written and researched work, Pohlkamp takes you into the mind of a conflicted assassin for whom the science of poisons is a passion; she loves what she does and enjoys murder, but she is not a cold-hearted serial killer. She also recognizes the sin in her profession and struggles to find absolution. The inherently high stakes of Lavinia’s profession, coupled with the danger of her rapid rise in notoriety, make for a page-turning plot. Add to that a one-sided love affair with the local lawman, and you have a recipe for a cracking good read. This book drew me in unlike any other in a long time. The author’s website promises a sequel, and I for one am glad. Very highly recommended.