The Blackthorn Key (Hardcover)

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$18.99
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Staff Reviews


Heather's September 2016 pick, 2 of 2

The Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands

Christopher is a quick and clever boy, raised from the torture of the orphanage into the apothecaries guild to become a young, trusted apprentice. He enjoys the tutelage of his kind Master, Benjamin Blackthorn and the trust instilled in him until it seems a cult starts targeting London’s Apothecaries loyal to the King. Tragedy strikes and Christopher is blamed. He must solve the riddle of his Master’s murder and find the killers before they find him and the dangerous secret that was entrusted to him.

This is a very well written middle grade novel. The action is fast paced and supported by swift, smart lessons in alchemy. The story evolves through a series of clues and puzzles that must be solved and each time the solutions never feel contrived or overly simplified for the young audience.  Each plot twist helps drive the action forward to unlock the mystery, setting off a chain reaction that is clear and easy to follow. One of the most engaging aspects of the story is the rich details of the time period creating a  great sense of atmosphere. It is so complete and full of historical facts that it will be a great introduction for young readers to historical fiction.  I’m sure that Sherlock would be a great next step for the readers that want even more clever puzzle solving. Personally, my next step is grabbing book two and continuing the adventure.

— From Heather Weirich Roy

Description


Following a series of murders, an apothecary’s apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this suspenseful debut novel.

“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.

In his stunning debut novel, Kevin Sands brings readers on a heart-stopping adventure rich with suspense, mystery, and unforgettable characters.

Praise For…


"Captivating! A masterful page-turner brimming with secrets, traps, friendship, intrigue, pigeons, potions, loyalty, and explosions. Kevin Sands has created an engaging, kind-hearted, and humorous young hero in apothecary's apprentice Christopher Rowe. This thrilling adventure will keep you hooked."

"Magic, adventure, and things that go boom--I love this book."

"First-time novelist Sands has written an exciting and self-assured tale of alchemy and dark secrets . . . Sands adeptly balances the novel’s darker turns with moments of levity and humor, and fills the book with nicely detailed characters and historical background—plus lots of explosions. It’s a story that should have broad appeal, while especially intriguing readers with an existing interest in chemistry, history, and decoding puzzles."

"A spectacular debut."

An auspicious debut middle grade novel. Set in the 1600s, the story revolves around Christopher Rowe, the apprentice to a Master Apothecary. After losing his master, Christopher begins to unravel a series of complex codes that his master had, unbeknownst to Chris, been preparing him to solve all along. The more that the protagonist uncovers, the more he finds himself in danger, along with his loyal-to-a-fault best friend. The story is well paced, managing not only to keep readers hooked, but also second guessing everything they think they know. Sands integrates a series of fun and interesting riddles and codes with chemistry concepts—no easy feat. The ending is dynamic and rewarding, with just the right blend of the fantastical and realistic. One of the true triumphs is the author’s ability to create a character who feels accurate for the time period, while also displaying a modern sensibility that will keep readers engaged. The action does get intense, but would still be appropriate for upper elementary school students. VERDICT This is an excellent story for readers who enjoy puzzles, action, and fantasy; keep an eye out for future installments

"An auspicious debut middle grade novel . . . The story is well paced, managing not only to keep readers hooked, but also second guessing everything they think they know. Sands integrates a series of fun and interesting riddles and codes with chemistry concepts—no easy feat. The ending is dynamic and rewarding, with just the right blend of the fantastical and realistic. One of the true triumphs is the author’s ability to create a character who feels accurate for the time period, while also displaying a modern sensibility that will keep readers engaged . . . VERDICT This is an excellent story for readers who enjoy puzzles, action, and fantasy; keep an eye out for future installments."

"An inspired blend of action, adventure, science, history, and humor, filled with fascinating facts, clever codes, and wonderful characters."
Product Details
ISBN: 9781481446518
ISBN-10: 1481446517
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English
Series: The Blackthorn Key