The Apothecary Diaries Vol 1 by: Natsu Hyuuga

After breaking a curse on the imperial heirs, a palace servant with training in herbal medicine is promoted up the ranks to food taster…and right into the thick of palace intrigue in this lushly illustrated period mystery series!

Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Though she yearns for life outside its perfumed halls, she isn’t long for a life of drudgery! Using her wits to break a curse afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the handsome eunuch Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is back to brewing potions and…solving mysteries?!
Photo by Grigoriy from Pexels

Although this is a pretty light and cute manga there is mention of Kidnapping, forced servitude/indentured servitude, poisoning, and death of small children.

I haven’t picked up a manga in years, mostly because I’m so out of the loop now on what’s being released and created, so I was very excited to see this manga being talked about on Booktok. After about ten years away this sounded like the perfect manga to get me back into the genre.

The thing I love most about manga is of course all the gorgeous artwork. As someone who is more of a visual person I just love being able to see exactly what the author envisioned for their characters and settings.

In The Apothecary Diaries, we meet Maomao who was kidnapped and taken to work at the palace. Confident she’ll never be noticed, as she isn’t considered a “beauty”, she works hard to make money for her kidnappers so she can eventually end her servitude and leave. Maomao grew up learning about plants and herbs so when she hears that the emperor has lost a lot of children to sickness she quickly deduces the cause.

Although Maomao attempts to warn of the poison while still maintaining her anonymity she’s quickly found out by Jinshi, one of the palace eunuchs. Seeing Maomao’s value as a servant who can read and who knows her way around an apothecary they quickly promote her to the food tester assigned to the emperor’s favored concubine.

This was such a fun start to a series and I look forward to seeing Maomao’s story progress as well as seeing what shenanigans Jinshi gets her into. If you’re looking to jump into manga or return to it like me, this would be a great story to start with!

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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