A review by Dee Dee Chainey: The Time Traveller’s Herbal – Stories and recipes from the historical apothecary cabinet by Amanda Edmiston, published by David & Charles.

The Time Traveller’s Herbal by Amanda Edmiston is an enchanting journey into the world of apothecary storytelling, infused with her personal connection and unwavering fascination with botanical lore and tales. Her introduction beautifully sets the stage, sharing her spellbinding backstory and the beginnings of her interest in all things herbal.

The captivating storytelling sets a tone that’s filled with magic. She evokes amazing landscapes and images with her distinctive style, dappling the text with local remedies and recipes to titillate the senses and immerse you in the folkloric world of old. Amanda takes you back in time to the ‘historical botanical realm’ with recipes from tempting tisanes to timeless tonics for wealth, health and fiery tempers – for you, your loved ones and even your cat. Her writing inspires you to reimagine the ground beneath us and the landscapes we walk through, bringing them to life in new ways. She unfolds their history before us and makes us look deeper – beyond the familiar and beneath the layers – with fresh eyes and a depth of soul that guides us to experience them anew.

The book follows Amanda on her travels through rolling landscapes of flowers and hedgerows, uncovering the legends and folk magic contained beneath their soil. The cast of the book encompasses figures from the Morrigan and Blodeuwedd to the Cailleach. Each tale links to magical recipes for charms, remedies and pick-me-ups — with advice on which plants to gather and tips on the best methods for collecting and storing them. Amanda’s approach to foraging is both thoughtful and accessible, offering ideas for making it a healthy and sustainable practice and ensuring it’s possible to make the recipes contained within the pages in all environments, from rural to inner-city places.

Meticulously researched and magically brought to life with storytelling, Amanda’s enthusiasm and love of the plants and their stories comes across and draws the reader in. Peppered through the text, as a backdrop to the tales, the illustrations evoke the charm of a historic field guide. William Morris-esque patterns adorn the pages, twining plant motifs and magic throughout the book. The extensive glossary at the back reveals the meanings of the herbal terms, and the Scots and Gaelic words used across the book –a delight to read in itself.

Amanda acts as a guide, moulding how we engage with herbal stories, leading us to respond to them in our own personal way. Then, like the unfurling roots of the plants themselves, she encourages us to share them with others – seeding the stories anew, planting their wisdom afresh, and helping them grow in the lives of generations to come.

This is a magical tome that belongs on all bookshelves. If you aim to concoct a lotion to see the fairies or need a cleansing tea for the full moon, then this is certainly the book to buy.



Many thanks to David & Charles and Amanda Edmiston for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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