The Blackthorn Key
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 mur ...more
Yep, there's even a secret bookcase door. Often "keys" in this book are the chemical kind that would make Professor Snape (RIP) proud.
I thought that for a MG book, this was actually pretty well thought out. While it can be a bit dry in parts, the characters themselves are pretty clever and inventive. It goes to show that books aimed at kids don't have to be full of forced snark à la Nickelodeon or Disney Channel--ser ...more
Set in 1665 in the city of London, this book introduces us to Christopher Rowe, our clever hero, who is apprenticed as an apothecary to Master Benedict Blackthorn. Having res ...more
In 1665, Christopher Rowe serves as an apprentice to a successful London apothecary, Master Benedict Blackthorn.
Blackthorn saved Christopher from a harsh and uncertain future, by adopting him from a local orphanage. Since that time, Blackthorn has acted as a caring father figure and mentor to the young boy.
Christopher is very clever, adept at following chemical recipes, deciphering puzzles and reading complex codes.
Along with his good friend, Tom, the baker's son, Christopher gets h ...more
If I had one niggle, it would be that ...more
Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. I won an advanced reader's copy book from a GR giveaway and I am so happy I did. This book is set to release on September 3rd 2015; which is when you should buy and read it. To be blunt, it's amazing, and quite honestly one of my new favorite middle-grades.
London 1665. A world of wigged gentlemen, drunkard peasants, and orphaned children. Christopher Rowe is an orphan at Cripplegate Orphanage, when he impresses an elite m ...more
I thought this was fantasy but it’s actually a historical fiction adventure.
It was a lot of fun for me. It features 14-year-old Christopher is an apprentice apothecary in 1665. He gets caught up the schemes of some really loathsome villains. He follows clues and solves puzzles set up by his master while escaping the villains — a bit like “Goonies.”
I really enjoyed how Christopher uses chemistry and logic to defeat the bad guys. The book is clever, fast-paced, and full of adventure and ...more
Set among the apothecaries -- and secret alchemists -- of London in 1665, this book is a perfect MG page-turner, with codes to crack and secret doors to open and vast conspiracies to foil, oh my. There is high adventure, some moving moments, and a truly satisfying number of explosions.
When I do bookstore events, I usually hang out in the kids and teens sections, trying to match readers with books. ...more
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– Frenetically paced mystery with solvable puzzles providing an interactive reading experience
– Hist-fic world building is rustic, has medieval flair, and the tone is vividly portrayed given it’s time; mild “fade to black/off-screen” gore
– Characters and relationships (i.e. bromance) feel organic. However, there isn’t a strong female presence
– There is a pigeon named Bridget. You ...more
While the characters were fun, the plot and the story itself wasn't. It was sad, stressful, and infuriating. It was also surprisingly dark and gory--enough to make me, an avid YA fantasy read, cringe. There's torture and murder and maiming...and if this was a YA book, maybe that would be okay, but I read this expecting a fun MG adventure, and that's not what I got.
Also, the big reveal at the end came out of nowhere. Not ...more
“It is never the tool that decides. It's the hands-and the heart-of the one who wields it.”
As always my reviews are based off of my true and honest opinion and I do my best to keep all reviews spoiler free.
Christopher Rowe is an apprentice to the apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. He's learning not only how to create recipes but how to make and decipher codes. However before he knows it, Christopher Rowes life comes crashing down, and now its in danger as well. Together Christophe...more
I feel there is a lack of good quality MG historical fiction that is fun and adventurous, where the point isn't to teach a history lesson, but to just have a story that sweeps you up in its magic and action. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands fills this need.
Christopher Rowe is an apothecary's apprentice in post Restoration London. He works hard, but he has a kind master who teaches him well and allows him enough free time for adventures t ...more
Christopher was an orphan in the busy London of the mid 1600’s. Taken as an apothecary’s apprentice at eleven, he’s bonded to his master. What’s more, he’s good at learning the trade. There’s a murderer about, and he stalks apothecaries. The rest you’ll have to read.
It’s been a long time since a book’s impressed me this much. Christopher and Tom are likeable, and the sensations of ...more
Although it starts off strong with a quirky protagonist and his goofy sidekick having a fun little misadventure, the rest of the story is too consumed with plot to let the characters shine. ...more
More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/The Blackthorn Key is an engaging middle grade historical/mystery that reads very much like a 12-year-old-friendly version of an Umberto Eco book. Set during the English Restoration (17th century, when Charles II was restored to the throne after Olive Cromwell's puritan revolution/civil war) the book has wonderful historical perspectives on the times that aren't overbearing or obtrusive to the story. But at heart, thi ...more
Whenever I open a book, and the first thing I find is a map of Seventeenth Century London......one of my favourite settings, I feel confident that it's going to be good, and this one certainly didn't disappoint me....I loved it....
With an abundance of Apothecaries, an ancient, mysterious and much sought after formula, charts, evil plots, secret doors and chambers, several gruesome corpses, and a cast of brilliantly described characters, The Blackthorn Key is a wonderfully entertaining book, that ...more
Add this to the list of middle grade novels that I find perfectly acceptable but not particularly interesting to me. For middle grade readers who are into chemistry and explosions, The Blackthorn Key will be a fast-paced romp.
For me, who’s not much into those things and reads for strong characters, The Blackthorn Key fell a bit flat. The fast pace and mini cliffhangers at the end of many of the chapters made it a quick enough read, but it wasn’t a total hit for me. The historical settin ...more
Set during the Restoration period in the 17th century, the year is 1665 and Charles II has been restored to his throne after years of ex ...more
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
Do you like things that go boom? I like things that go boom. Do you like books that feature alchemists? I like books that feature alchemists. Do you think you’ll like this book? WELL I DID.
I knew this book was one I needed to read after I saw that one of the quotes for the book was from the author of Artemis Fowl. I mean, it really doesn’t get much better than Artemis Fowl if you are looking for a series with great wor ...more