BookWyrm Cove · Reviews

Opium and Absinthe | Lydia Kang

Happy October, BookWyrms!

With the spooky season underway, I decided to kick October off by reading Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang. While it definitely put me in the mood to watch some classic horror movies, this wasn’t a scary book. This was a drug addled whodunit with a splash of comedy and a pinch of romance. (I know, I know. The spooky season is almost over. Where have I been? I got stung by a bee and I adopted a gargoyle gecko. Life has been crazy.)

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Terrifying to Behold. Impossible to Believe.

New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be – can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to the truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum… and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampire slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real – or whether she can trust those closest to her.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The mystery of who killed Lucy constantly had me guessing. What made this book stand out above the rest was the relatability of Tillie and her journey. Kang illustrated the timeless frustration of sexism and stifling family expectations while maintaining Tilly’s fantastic sense of humor and perspective.

While not all of us can relate to Tillie’s opium addiction, we can certainly understand her plight to follow her dreams despite her fear, in spite of a family that not only doesn’t understand her dreams but downright resents her feeling the need to do something.

Although we were separated by 120 years and a pain management problem, I connected with Tillie more than I have with a book character for quite some time. It’s been a couple weeks since I finished Opium and Absinthe, but I am still carrying Tillie and her courage, and I believe that I will for a long time.

As always, drop me a comment, BookWyrms. What spooky reads did you pick up this month? I had plans to get through a lot more this month but isn’t it always the months you plan the most for that end up going awry? As tax for my lack of content, below you will find a photo of our newest little Wrym, Atzi the Gargoyle Gecko. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! Happy Halloween, BookWyrms!