Cover Image: Opium and Absinthe

Opium and Absinthe

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me this eARC to review.

The book sounded interesting but when I started the book, I found that this book was not for me. There was also drug abuse and sexual assault from what I remember which I do not really like to read in books.
Was this review helpful?
I´d say that this is a mixed bag - on the first hand a solid world-building and a very interesting set-up, on the other hand a very, very prolonged sleuthing  for a possible (vampire?) killer/s combined with long passages describing the mis/use of various drugs as medicines. The authoress certainly has good writing skills, but I would love to see a sharper, more focused look on the plot development.
Was this review helpful?
The synopsis was really excellent and I had been looking forward to this based on that but it really wasn't for me. I tried a few times but I think I wasn't the reader for this book.
Was this review helpful?
Opium and Absinthe is a very peculiar book: the author purposely introduces its protagonist, Mathilda (Tillie) Pembroke under an extremely unfavorable lens to the point that, in my particular case, I began to despise her from the first chapter: a young woman from the high New York society whose sole purpose in life is to satisfy her curiosity (how important could the smell of elephants be to her?) and so easy to manipulate that she would take drugs from anyone...
However, the other leads, Ian and the  kids, Pops, Piper and Sweetie are really the ones who pushed me to finish reading this book.
I guess I'm not used to this type of female protagonist, but the story is interesting and the reading becomes more agile as the plot progresses.  In summary, Ms. Kang has written a novel with an unusual protagonist, a very interesting plot especially for readers of vampire and mystery novels, set in New York in the late 1800s and although some readers like me may don't be tempted to finish reading the adventures of someone like Tillie, in the end it's worth giving this book a try.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the premise of this book a lot. The character growth was great and the setting brought in a mix of Golden Age and all the vampire lore I could want. The death of Lucy being mirrored by the character Lucy in Dracula was great. Maybe a bit too much on the nose for others but I thought it was perfect for the book. Ian was a nice palm against James, who was a bit heavy handed at times, Tillie was a perfect yet flawed heroine and I would love to read more of her stories. Especially after the book where it explores her life with Ian with her wants and needs away from her family.

I wasn't surprised by the gaslighting of the book but I do wish there had been a bit of a warning about it. It made me put the book down a lot, which is why it took so long for this review to happen. The mother and grandmother were a bit heavy handed as well. I'm not sure if I liked the idea of NYC as a character, especially on the turn of a century, but it sometimes worked. Other times, it did not.

I apologize for the lateness of this review. I did enjoy it as a solid 3 star read.
Was this review helpful?
This novel sounded intriguing. However, it was not executed well. I did not like the narrator. I also found the vampire plot to be unnecessary and did little to enhance the plot.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice twist on the trotted out trope of an unreliable author by setting it in the 1890s. Though Tillie at times could be frustrating, I really liked her character, her grit and determination. I also really enjoyed the whodunit aspect. Whilst there had been clues it wasn't and obvious ending!.
Was this review helpful?
Book 74 for 2022! 5/5 stars for this YA historical fiction! Why did it take me so long to read this one?! Especially when I should've known I'd love it! Great for fans of Kerri Maniscalco! Love the cover, it fits the story perfectly! Narration was great! Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
TW: addiction, sexual assault 

This book is a departure from a lot of the fantasy novels I usually read but I couldn’t resist the gothic undertones it had! It is a bit of a rambling book, but it works in this murder mystery context, especially with an MC who is lost in her own world. I didn’t mind the main character and enjoyed how she was trying to find out the identity of her sister’s killer. There were moments that required suspension of belief, which I didn’t really like, and the allusions to Dracula were a bit unnecessary. However, I enjoyed reading the story so I’m giving this YA novel a solid 3/5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
Read but was not terribly memorable. I am clearing out the books published in 2020 from my "to review" shelf!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
⭐⭐⭐.5 (rounded up)
.
“Forgetting is an act of survival . We are women, Mathilda. We endure to survive."
.
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.
.
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.
.
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.
.
This is a great read for anyone looking for a semi-gothic, Dracula infused, Halloween read.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
This book was right up my alley in terms of genre... fascinating... read in one sitting. A must-read on my list!!!
Was this review helpful?