In a medieval Venice ravaged by famine and orgiastic revelries, the protagonists of The Apothecary’s Shop explore the depths of the city and the paths to the supernatural in their search for a missing child.
The young Costanza, of the noble Grimani family, has disappeared. Edgardo, the family scribe, vows to return the girl to her family, an ambitious enterprise considering his failing eyesight. Physical ailments and emotional torment hinder Edgardo’s search, for as he undertakes this perilous investigation, images of his own lost love—Kallis, a slave from the Far East who disappeared in a storm years ago—are resurrected. Help arrives in the form of Abella, the only female doctor in Venice. From her, Edgardo learns of occult medical practices and of Sabbatai’s Apothecary, where the city’s most desperate citizens seek heretical remedies and concoctions to sooth their suffering. It is here, however, where the secret of Constanza’s disappearance may lie.
Venal physicians and legitimate healers, unscrupulous relatives, mystics and apothecaries, wealthy nobility and the wretched poor, undertakers, Eastern merchants, African slave traders, each plays a role this ingeniously constructed mystery set in the busy and licentious trade port of Venice.
The Apothecary’s Shop is an erudite literary thriller in the vein of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and takes readers on an astonishing voyage into a city both distant yet familiar.