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The Hollow Bettle (Poisons of Caux #1)

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  401 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Introducing a witty and macabre new fantasy trilogy.

There's little joy left in the kingdom of Caux: the evil King Nightshade rules with terrible tyranny and the law of the land is poison or be poisoned. Worse, eleven-year-old Ivy’s uncle, a famous healer, has disappeared, and Ivy sets out to find him, joined by a young taster named Rowan. But these are corrupt times, and t
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Yearling (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 07, 2010 Sps rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle, story, fantasy
Review book. For ages 10-12.
While the action moves forward reasonably well, and the premise is interesting, the problems with prose and characterization make me give this a thumbs-down. We’re told that Ivy likes poisons better than healing, but then she spends the rest of the book—and presumably the rest of the series—happily fulfilling the Prophecy of the Noble Child by healing people, becoming outraged when people are poisoned, and working against the culture of poisoning. Kirkus Reviews* got
Miss Clark
Possibly verging on a 2.5

It was very confusing and jumped around. By the end, I was not materially any closer to understanding the story or what the characters were actually doing or who they were than in the beginning. Really, one of the poorest opening chapters for clarity that I have read in a looooooong time.And while I wanted to like Ivy, and the other two main characters, I found them flat. The dialogue did not sparkle, the characters did not invite you in, and darned if the plot did not c
Jan 01, 2011 Moshe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am fortunate enough to have attended a live reading of "The Hollow Bettle" (I live in New York's Hudson Valley) and, to answer the quirkily-doubtful reviewers above, I have seen *first-hand* the enthusiasm of young readers (aged around 10 years old) who apparently had NO trouble whatsoever reading, comprehending, and loving Ivy's adventures. They monopolized the Q&A session with observations and questions!

Perhaps some reviewers should give Caux's target audience more credit...
What I really liked was the world building. The journey Rowan and Ivy go through was well described and their encounters with different characters was well done. I loved the different settings and their adventure seemed to get even more exciting as the book was nearing to a close. How the setting came about, and the introduction to this story was well done. I liked how the setting was established, with a nice concise history on how King Nightshade came about. It’s almost told in a fairy tale nar ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its about time someone brought back an intelligent read full of imagery and wonderful characters! I loved this book for myself and my child.... I am currently reading the second of the trilogy now and it only gets better! Recommended for all.
Jul 19, 2012 Cory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1.5 I dragged myself through this because I wanted to love it, but the pacing was weird, the characters were flat, and it just. didn't. work.
Jul 17, 2015 Marlowe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Apotheopathy - or healing - has been illegal in Caux since the deadly King Nightshade took the throne. Ivy Manx's uncle is one of the few apotheopaths still practising in secret. But when he goes missing, Ivy sets out on a adventure to find her lost uncle and to fulfil a mysterious and hidden prophecy about a Noble Child.

I picked The Hollow Bettle up on a whim. I'm trying to build a collection of good children's books to build my son's interest in reading, and this one has very appealing illustr
I don't read a lot of middle grade fantasy (and have a lackluster response to even that boy wizard) but the poisoning angle of this one looked cool and the opening paragraph is a hook. Overall, The Hollow Bettle turned out to be a decent beginning to a new series with enough delightful moments of magic to impress.

I had some trouble getting into it at first, because it takes Appelbaum a good 50 pages to tame her precocious, high vocabulary style into a flow. For that reason, I'm not really sure
Conan Tigard
Nov 12, 2015 Conan Tigard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a good adventure and The Hollow Bettle delivers just that ... a romping good adventure. Susannah Appelbaum has created an interesting world where everyone in Caux must have a personal taster because poisonings seem to be second nature. Of course, it hasn't always been this way, which is what the book is really about.

The main characters of Ivy and Rowan are wonderful and young readers will instantly like them. The story is highly interesting and the bad guys are just that . . . bad. Well
Aug 22, 2009 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Beetle by Susannah Applebaum

The Hollow Beetle is the first book in the new trilogy The Poisons of Caux by Susannah Applebaum. The story follows the adventures of healer in training Ivy Manx as she journeys through the kingdom of Caux, a land which has forgotten the arts of kindness and trust turning instead to the craftiness of poisons, and eleven-year-old Ivy just may be the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. The catch is that, as of yet, young Ivy is oblivious t
Mar 20, 2011 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult

Literature for young readers. Sets up a fantasy kingdom where apotheopaths (herbalists of goodwill) have been supplanted by herbalists of ill will, who attempt to poison enemies/competitors, etc. Under the evil kingship of the Nightshade family, apotheopaths have been outlawed.

Protagonist is a young orphan Poison Ivy (who it turns out does have living parents). She teams up w. Rowan a young guild food-taster, to rescue her uncle, a covert apotheopath who was trying to heal t
Oct 30, 2009 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the kingdom of Caux, poisoning is the norm, and Ivy Manx is worried. When her beloved uncle Cecil went on a journey a year ago, she took over running his tavern, the Hollow Bettle. But that was a year ago, and Ivy decides it is time to go search for him. Accompanied by her pet crow, the tavern's Taster, and her own inept Taster, Ivy sets out and is almost immediately pursued by King Nightshade's deadly sentries. With magical help from a diminutive trestleman, they evade the sentries and an Ou ...more
Sarah Tilatitsky
Oct 16, 2010 Sarah Tilatitsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good. I mean, really good. A girl named after Poison Ivy (Ivy) was the adopted niece of an outlawed apotheopath (he does it in secret, it's just illegal to practice and to preform the profession) who was jailed when he stepped inside the city of where the king and queen lived (he stated his secret profession) and Ivy was living with a mean taster (a person that tastes food so that the people aren't poisoned) that is secretly trying to take her away to his master. The master has a se ...more
May 14, 2013 Pim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nakonec moc pěkný pohádkový příběh plný jedů, rostlin a písmenka x. :D Líbí se mi autorky vyprávěcí, popisovací styl, dlouho jsem nic podobného nečetla a tak mi to nevadilo, i když to chvílemi bylo trochu nudnější a rozvleklejší, mohlo by to být trochu... dynamičtější. Překlady jmen mi nevadí, i když jmenovat se Jeřáb teda musí bejt něco. Postavy byly fajn, jen jsme se o nich moc nedozvěděli a proto na mě nijak výrazně nepůsobily - nevadily ani nenadchly. Popravdě jsem se ale místy trochu ztráce ...more
Ivy Manx, aka "Poison Ivy," decides to go after her missing uncle who left their inn to try to cure the king a year ago. Along the way she picks up an unlucky boy who has just managed to kill 20 of the royal guard because he failed to "taste" the poison in their food. But he didn't, really. He joins Ivy on her quest to find the royal city where the evil "Nightshades" are ruling the land with fear. Along the way Ivy learns that she is the child that will fulfill a royal prophecy stating that she ...more
Elisa Banninga
Sep 22, 2015 Elisa Banninga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this series when shelving in the children's room at the public library, and checked all three books out partly to create more space on the shelf (there were quite a few Anglebergers that needed to find space) and partly because the title intrigued me. How could a series about poison and intrigue be a children's series? And then I read it and learned. This is a fantastic adventure series, The characters are immensely relatable and the narrative tone is easy to follow. The story is multila ...more
Sandra Pedicini
Pretty clever little book - filled with Harry Potteresque touches including a winged sidekick (a crow, this time, instead of an owl). Introducing Ivy Manx as the female Harry Potter, whose role as the savior of a dark world has been predicted in a prophecy. In this odd world, an evil king has taken over and people are being poisoned at such a rate, they often hire “tasters” to sample their food and proclaim it safe. Ivy’s uncle – who aims to heal people rather than poison them – has disappeared, ...more
Book Elf
Aug 10, 2011 Book Elf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-bookshelf
I was curious with this book when I saw it in NBS. First off, the cover is nice. I like the shade of green and even the prints are in green, which was relaxing to my eyes. Then there are illustrations inside which makes it a lot nicer.

The summary caught my attention too as this was a change of story to the normal YA about magic and dragons. Hmmm...something about poison. I like the plot, how it was written, and the promise of the next story. Nothing extravagant, but it was a bit creepy, a bit wi
Jul 02, 2011 Codex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, 2011
Somehow the story never developed sufficiently to gain momentum and captivate. Some parts seemed disjointed and misplaced, others overworked or drawn out. And something was decidedly wrong with the language use, which tended to disrupt flow and natural rhythm; this forced frequent rereading of passages in an attempt to fathom what was actually being conveyed. Considering the 400-odd pages required to get to the end, the conclusion came across rather weak. Overall a pity, since the plot did offer ...more
Miss Bookiverse
Mar 31, 2011 Miss Bookiverse marked it as didnt-finish
Nach 100 Seiten heißt es leider SchlussAusEnde. Ich fand das Buch klang wirklich gut, das Cover ist toll und die auch die Illustrationen im Buch sind schön. Leider bin ich nach dem kompletten Part 1 noch immer nicht mit den Figuren, geschweige denn mit den beiden Protagonisten, warm geworden. Sie wirken einfach nur fremd und kalt.
Am meisten nervt mich aber der Schreibstil, er wirkt gewollt hochtrabend. Ich dachte eigentlich hierbei handle es sich um ein Middle Grade Buch, aber dafür fand ich die
Feb 10, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlegrade
This is a fabulous start to a brand new trilogy about the world of Caux, where poisonings are a common occurrence. As in all good trilogies, there is a Prophecy that claims there is a Noble Child who will cure the King and bring relief to the land of Caux. This child is Ivy Manx. Together with a rogue, young taster from the Guild and her bird Shoo, she must save the world. I can't wait for the next installment in this fun new trilogy.
Feb 03, 2013 Vojtěch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jak už jsem psal, ta klasická pohádkovost, hraničící až s takovou nevinnou, naivní pohádkovostí, mi zde vůbec nevadila. Naopak, velmi jsem tu uvítal. Musím stále porovnávat se Spřízněnci čarodějů, kteří ač spadají do stejné věkové kategorie, jsou o level níž než Traviči ze země Caux.
Pro mne velmi příjemná změna od všech tradičních fantasy knih, těším se na další díl (a pokud bude stejně kvalitní jako první, tak má tato série šanci zamíchat mým oblíbeným pořadím dětských knížek).
I like the characters (some are rather delightful) but I don't think they are properly filled out. A few seem like a sketch that didn't quite get finished. And, unfortunately, this book has the feeling of many intended series that things are being stretched out just for the sake of continued books. (Meaning the story is sometimes slow and going nowhere.) Still, I plan to read the second one and learn more.
Rachel Dillinger
Thank god for this book!!!!
I've been waiting for a new trilogy to come that keeps me flipping pages at night until dawn.
I love the poison and tasters, herbs and antidotes...and the world of Caux is totally cool, unusual. The book is printed in a murky green ink--even the text!
Really fun--I've given it to my two nieces.
I've read the second, The Taster's Guild--and Appelbaum has me hooked.
Can't wait for the third!
Valerie Malott
I read this book because I went to school with the author. The beginning of the story took a while to get me interested as it was a little difficult to see where the story was going. However, after about 75 pages in, I was compelled to keep reading to find out what happens to the main character, Ivy. In all, it was an enjoyable read and I was impressed with my school-mate's ability to weave an interesting tale.
Sep 22, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book too heavy on the narrator. The characters didn't even speak for the first few chapters, and I grew tired of not hearing them. This got better as the book went on, but it was too much narration for me. What I've read about writing stories always says, "show don't tell," and there was a lot of "telling" in this book.
Jan 23, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I really enjoyed the story and found it to be intriguing, I hope Ms. Appelbaum becomes a better writer for book 2 in this series. I found her storytelling to be very abrupt, so much so that I would have to stop and go back to make sure I didn't miss anything because she clipped along at such a furious pace. Very quick moving story with lots of wonder.
Mar 02, 2016 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Poison or be poisoned", a world where you live in fear of anything you put in your mouth could be your last thing you ever eat.
I guess I didn't care for the whole part of people poisoning people was an every day thing in this book... The story itself was ok, with the creative world and something new to read, but it wasn't for me.
Tori Cochran
This took me two or three months to read, because at the time I was very impatient with books. The beginning of this book is very slow, but I finished the last fifty or so pages in one day. As far as the plot goes I would classify it as unmemorable. I plan on re-reading this soon, so when I do I will reevaluate this review.
Charlou Lunsford
Sep 18, 2010 Charlou Lunsford rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j
Ivy Manx, 11, lives in a kingdom ruled by an evil king where poisoning is the norm so having a taster is common. She is joined by Rowan, a young inept taster, when she sets out to find her uncle, the last apotheopath (healer) who disappeared and left her a year before. Danger, intrigue and secrets. The first of a trilogy, nice enough but I hoped for more.
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Susannah Appelbaum realized at an early age that the world contains both good and evil—and she wanted nothing more than to write about it. By day, she does so. The night is reserved for keeping the world safe from shadows and demons. She has lived both in Paris and at the Carlyle hotel, where the service is exquisite and the food is never burnt. Susannah resides in New York’s Hudson Valley and is ...more
More about Susannah Appelbaum...

Other Books in the Series

Poisons of Caux (3 books)
  • The Tasters Guild (Poisons of Caux, #2)
  • The Shepherd of Weeds (Poisons of Caux, #3)

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