A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a perfect blend of historical fiction and a cosy mystery, all wrapped up in a gorgeous cover and intricate story. Kate Khavari book has interesting characters set in London in the 1920s. A huge thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing an ARC of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons.
As always, my thoughts and feelings are my own, and this review is spoiler-free.
Summary of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons
Saffron Everleigh, a female research assistant in the botanist department at the University College of London working for Dr Maxwell. When she attends a dinner party, where many of her colleagues and higher-ups are discussing the newest expedition, Saffron is shocked as she witnesses Mrs Henry, one of the professor’s wives, drop to the floor, poisoned. With her boss being the main suspect, Saffron is determined to clear his name, desperate to uncover the truth. Will her investigation raise the suspicion of the real poisoner, or is it who she least suspects.
My Thoughts on A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons
The characters and descriptions of the time period are brilliantly articulated. Set in London in 1923, Saffron faces a lot of sexism and quick dismissal from her colleagues, with a recent rumour has spread around the department. Saffron’s biggest tie to the University is that her father used to work there and in an effort to feel close to him, she chooses to follow in his footsteps. She’s wickedly quick, determined and straight-laced, but at times rash and quick to act, a juxtaposition of the field she works in and it gets her into trouble. Especially with fellow researcher, Alexander Ashton.
Ashton is one of the few men in the story who sees Saffron for more than she is. His annoyance at her rash decision bonds them and pushes him (although I really think he’d have jumped off a cliff for her) to help Saffron with her investigation. The two seemingly get closer and Ashton finds himself on more than one occasion, being the voice of reason. Due to the time period, their relationship is hidden behind the things they don’t do, rather than what they say. Thankfully, with the chapters switching between the two, we get an interesting insight into how the two of them feel about the other.
It wasn’t hard to get behind these two, and I fell very quickly in love with them both. Their slow-growing friendship (and hopefully more) pulls you in. But the two of them working together make an effective and complementary team. Their behaviour and conversations seemed perfect for the time period Kate Khavari has set this piece in.
The pacing of the novel began and ended brilliantly, it lost its way just a touch during the mid-part of the novel. But, it’s quickly forgiven when the pieces begin to come together and the last 150 pages had me on the edge of my seat, pulling me in, not allowing me to stop reading.
Thankfully, also, I wasn’t disappointed by the ending, having really enjoyed the ‘whodunnit’ thread throughout the book. I’d been close to being 100% right with my suspicions, but I’m excited to go back and pick up all the other breadcrumbs.
From the first page, this book was special.
Actually, I should also mention the cover for this novel is stunning. I’m already imagining all the ways I can display it, the colours and font are outstandingly beautiful. So, from the cover, I knew this was special.
The writing was intricate, the mystery well-paced throughout the book. As I mentioned, the story slowed a little in the middle, but this is quickly forgiven as you get closer to the end. I also loved the ending; for me wasn’t disappointing and made a lot of sense.
One of my favourite things I’ve learned since finishing is that the author, Kate, did a lot of research on plants and poisons for this book. It’s something you can truly tell throughout the novel and that the infamous plant is one of her own making.
Since finishing, I’m overjoyed to learn there’s going to be another book. I really hope time flies until I can get my hands on it. As it was mentioned so frequently in this, I’m hoping we’ll get bits of Ashton on the expedition. And, of course, Saffron sneaking around solving more crimes.
A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is an atmospheric and enjoyable read, and I’m so grateful to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the ARC. I can’t recommend it enough, and an easy 4.5 out of 5 stars.