Cover Image: Opium and Absinthe

Opium and Absinthe

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Member Reviews

Read but was not terribly memorable. I am clearing out the books published in 2020 from my "to review" shelf!
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Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang is a historical mystery mixed with a bit of paranormal fantasy and a bit of romance. Of course I would be interested in this one as someone who loves all kinds of books this one looked like good genre soup to devour.

The story is set in New York City in 1899 where Tillie Pembroke has just lost her sister. Tillie has always been the curious type so of course she wants to know what happened to her sister and why. The case has gone cold pushing Tillie to take matters into her own hands.

Tille knows that her sister’s body was found with two puncture wounds in her neck and drained of blood. A new novel has just been published, Dracula, which Tillie picks up to read and finds a terrible similarity to her sister’s death. When more bodies are found Tillie knows she is tracking a vampire in the city.

Opium and Absinthe was not my first book by Lydia Kang having read a couple of others by her before. I expected going into this one that I would enjoy it and would find a creative story inside and both of those were true. I would say this one was a little slower pace than I would prefer and I’m not normally a huge fan of drug use stories but the creativity and nature of the time of this historical setting I still enjoyed the book. Overall I’d say this one rated three and a half stars for me and I’d definitely read this author again.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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This one was not for me. The book had potential but I felt the other really went off track. Wish this one was more like the synopsis.
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I adored this book! Not only was it entertaining but it also included tons of history-related information, especially about medicine.

Tillie Pembroke, the main character, is a loveable character due to inquisitiveness, her thirst for learning, her rebellion, want to be different from what society (and her family) expected from her.

Her older sister Lucy is found dead and exsanguinated by Central Park. Nobody seems shocked, no one is mourning their loss, no one is looking interested finding out who her killer is. Tilly takes it upon herself to discover the truth.

I loved Bram Stoker's Dracula inclusion in the story since the book was released in 1899, same year O&A is happening.

The substance abuse messed me up a little. So much daily drug usage, I wonder if it morphine and opium was really such a thing back then. This part of the story disturbed me, I have to say, but I felt satisfied with the ending
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Very interesting read! You can tell the author did a ton of research and effortlessly blended several ideas together to create the story. We have a mix of inspiration from Dracula, to struggling with addiction, facing grief and feeling the pull of standing up for yourself and others and uncovering the truth no matter the cost.
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Thank you to the publishers, Netgalley and the author for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  
Yes, I know this book has been out for over a year ... my TBR is ridiculous.  But I am so glad that I went looking for a gothic story to mark the beginning of Spooky month, and stumbled across this one.  
The story centres around a rather shy and awkward young woman, Tillie, whose sister is found murdered and who is determined to find the killer.  She has suffered a painful injury and, at a time when treating injuries and illness with 'cures' such as morphine and heroin, develops a habit that clouds her brain and makes investigating difficult.  It also seems that her sister's fiance is keen on keeping her complacent, and she does not understand his motivations.
While investigating her sister, Lucy's murder, Tillie becomes obsessed with the idea that a vampire might be the killer and compulsively reads 'Dracula'. She meets a young Jewish boy, Ian, who helps her understand the world a little better and, eventually, the scales fall from Tillie's life.
As she starts to take control of her life the killer draws closer and soon Tillie is fighting for more than her independence.
This is a gripping read, beautifully written and researched.  I loved the characters, especially the female ones, who were complex and layered.
I am sure this author is well-known, but this is the first of her books I have read.  Although, it certainly will not be the last.
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⭐⭐⭐.5 (rounded up)
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“Forgetting is an act of survival . We are women, Mathilda. We endure to survive."
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What a surprise 'Opium & Absinthe' by @lydiakang turned out to be. Initially I was uncertain about the dialogue and I struggled to hear the voices as believable people but as I moved further into the story, the dialogue started to feel more natural. By the end I'd forgotten all about it. Seems the Shakespeare effect struck.
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Tillie is what you want in a protagonist. Strong willed, flawed, & self assured once she learns her strengths, Tillie goes about solving the murder of her sister in the best way she can. Ian, Piper, Pops & Sweetie provide a wonderful support cast to all her ideas & schemes.
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I don't know how accurate the history or geography is within this story but I'm not sure it matters.  The mental images created by Kang's lyrical descriptions builds a picture of substance that makes reality fell less necessary.
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This is a great read for anyone looking for a semi-gothic, Dracula infused, Halloween read.
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Interesting to see a historical fiction that deals with addiction! I feel like you don’t often see that and it was done really well.
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Set in 1899 New York, this historical mystery is well researched and well written. The descriptions and dialogue bring the period to life.

The main character, Tillie Pembroke, is an interesting and intelligent heroine whose observations of the world can keep a reader entranced. Since she is a very likable character, it becomes painful for a reader to see her growing addiction to opioids. However, it also makes it easy to understand, then and now, how an intelligent person can rationalize becoming dependent on a drug that is prescribed by a physician.

This is definitely a mystery and can even fit into the thriller category. The suspects abound and the characterizations are well done and depict the expectations and mores of the time.

This is a solid historical mystery with a satisfying ending. There is nothing to offend sensitive readers and the book is recommended for anyone who enjoys historical mysteries.
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I'm a sucker for vampires and books about them so I was hoping this would be a good book. While it wasn't a vampire book, I was not disappointed at all. As I read, I began to really care about the characters.  The murders gave it that little edge that really made it a great book. Great writing, smooth and keeps your attention throughout the book. This was a fun, quick read and I'm looking forward to reading more books from Ms. Kang.
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This book was right up my alley in terms of genre... fascinating... read in one sitting. A must-read on my list!!!
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I would definitely recommend the audiobook for this one. I did receive this book as a read now ebook from Netgalley but all thoughts are my own. 

It took me forever to pick this up, but it definitely kept me engaged once I started it. 

Tillie was an interesting character. Watching her descent into addiction and her striving to gain sobriety was fascinating. Her interactions with other characters were an excellent way to move along the story. 

Where the story missed the mark for me was with the romance. First off, I don’t really like when suddenly all these people are romantically interested in the main character. It feels super disingenuous. I know James was meant to be an out of nowhere suspicious kind of match and I can forgive that. I found I didn’t like Ian as much as I probably should have and I feel like it was because he lost his jaunty attitude and became way to serious all the time. I especially despise the way the author handled Tom’s character. What happened, in my opinion, was a character assassination meant to put him out of the way as a love interest so Ian would be the only choice available. What happened was unnecessary and would not have effected the outcome if it didn’t happen. For that, I am very mad. 

The end of the story got a little muddled. But overall I liked the book. The mystery was intriguing and I liked all the research that you can tell went into this book. My final rating is 3.75 rounded to a 4.
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I love the gothic atmosphere of this story with a satisfying ending. It was a little slow in the middle but when if picked up, it really picked up the pace.
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I want to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this book.  I admit in my joy at joining NetGalley I may have been overzealous in my requesting numbers.  As this book has already been published, I am choosing to work on the current upcoming publish date books in my que.  As I complete those I will work on my backlogged request and will provide a review at that time.  I again send my sincere thanks and apologies.
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Wow! What a captivating read. We, the readers, get the chance to see into young Tillie’s head as she is recovering from a riding accident and under the influence of opium as a result. When her sister is found dead with two puncture marks on her neck...is it a vampire, or is it the opium induce fantasy inside Tillie’s head? Read this wonderful historic novel for yourself to find out!
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Opium and Absinth is fascinating historical fantasy, which got the idea from two historical events that happened in 1899 - Bram Stoker’s Dracula first publishing in America and newsies strike in New York. So using the hysterics that Dracula aroused and the ease that doctors prescribed opium based tonics and Bayer’s new cough tablets that consists heroin, Kang created a captivating story. The protagonist is a young girl from high society, who does not want to do the tradicional things, gets seriously injured on a day, when her sister goes missing. When her sister is found with wounds on her neck, she is already using laudanum, and when she starts looking for a truth, what happened to her sister, she needs more and more support from this secretive and highly addictive tonic. A newsie comes to her help, since he wants to know what happened too, and he also likes this unusual girl. And then there are some more “helpful friends” who keep our heroine floating in an intoxication. Everybody has their secrets and they find it helpful, when Tillie is not too sharp.
This story, whti its historical facts and fascinating fiction, keeps you reading and the ending is not at all what you would expect. 
Good read.
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I am sorry but I didn't finish this book.
It was too claustrophobic for my tastes. On one hand, I really appreciated Tillie as a character. Her inquisitive mind was refreshing and interesting. I loved this side of her. And the idea of a character who is becoming an addict was interesting, too. And well developed. I think that here the author did an amazing job. 
But all the book, all the interactions with Tillie and her mother, grandmother, and maid are too claustrophobic for me. On one hand I would say that the author did a great job here, but it was just too much for me.
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I found this book interesting yet too slow and repetitive, there was a point when I was tired of Lucy and I never connected or even liked any character. But I loved the way this book turned and the New York's descriptions, I also liked the cover n.n
Thanks to Netgalley for the oportunity of reading this arc n.n
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The characters in this book are absolutely fantastic. I really loved following their story. 

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Lydia Kang and Lake Union Publishing for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review.

I don't read many novels in this genre, but I've enjoyed Kang's work from the beginning. Her novels are such a different and interesting take on historical fiction. There are a lot of twists and dark turns that this novel takes and it made it so much easier to cruise through. I really enjoyed the main characters and really mistrusted everyone else because everyone has secrets. The addiction issue in this novel was so interesting compared to today, such a good idea to make it that our main character got addicted and then friends and family were doing everything and anything to keep her addicted. Overall, a really interesting and addictive novel.
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