Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Author: Kevin Sands
Publisher: Aladdin
Date of publication: September 2015

“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.

But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

The Blackthorn Key is a middle grade novel set in the 1600s. Christopher Rowe is a young apprentice to an apothecary and spends  his days cleaning the shop and learning how to mix medicines and potions.  Someone in London is killing apothecaries and Christopher gets caught up in the danger.

I thought this was a pretty good book for upper middle grade kids.  As I was listening to the audiobook, I kept thinking about my 5th grader and whether it would hold his interest or not.  Maybe in a year or two he will be ready for this book.  It's a little dark and brutal, but then that was the reality of the times.

Story wise, I was intrigued enough to finish the book.  I liked Christopher.  At times he was a typical preteen boy getting into impulsive mischief.  But for the most part, he was really smart and able to solve complicated puzzles.  I wish that we could have seen more of his relationship between Chris and his master. We get a glimpse of it through flashbacks, but I would have loved more. 

I would recommend this one.  I think any upper middle grade reader will enjoy the book.  I'll be seeking out the sequel soon.

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