Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman

Herman - Royal Art Book Jacket

I would first like to thank  Clare and Netgalley  for letting me apart of the ” The Royal Art of Poison”  blog tour.  The title of this book in just a few words sets the tone perfectly about what this book is going to about.  Not only do we get a good dose of history about Royals,  but we also get deadly medical practices,  murderous intrigues, and deadly poisons as well.

Palace of Versailles

I think this book more than anything gave me a major wake up call.  After reading this I was grateful  that I lived in this time period and not back in the past.  One of the things I found interesting about this book,  was when Herman was talking about Castles. Unlike today,  most of the palaces back then didn’t have proper sewage running through them. So most of the time courtiers would find a secluded spot and urinate and defecate in different parts of the castle (i.e. palace staircase).  It was just not people,  but animal feces could be seen around the castle and grounds as well. It had gotten so bad in the court of Henry VIII that he had to crack down and put up a sign banning people from urinating and defecating in the Palace and on Palace grounds.

Queen Elizabeth I


Another intriguing topic that was discussed in this book was cosmetics.  Women were literally killing themselves all in the name of beauty.  Well known historical figures like,  Queen Elizabeth I is well known for the cosmetics she wore. After suffering a bout of smallpox,  she started to apply deadly toxins to her skin in order to cover the pox marks.  Some of these toxins consisted of mercury and human fat that they got from prisoner that they just executed. It was said that Elizabeth suffered from depressions and dark moods towards the end of her life.  Could these toxins have contributed to her mood swings and her ultimate death?  Another interesting fact is that Elizabeth I didn’t want to be embalmed,  due to how the embalmers treated the body.  She wanted her body to be washed,  dressed, and covered with sweet smelling spices.  Elizabeth  really enjoyed this book. These orders were ignored because they were late in burying because they were waiting on James I.


I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written. I thought this book was very informative, and it made me want to study more on certain historical figures. Eleanor Herman has a way of making history fun.  I was not bored at all with this story.  I would highly recommend this book who is interested in royalty, history,  poisons,  and murder/mystery sort of thing. Please pick this book at your library or bookstores today !!!













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