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The Hollow Bettle

(Poisons of Caux #1)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  441 ratings  ·  65 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
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  441 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Jun 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: story, fantasy, middle
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
the part of me that is still eight years old will always, i think, be a little bit extremely furious that everybody slept on this children’s series. everyone SHUT UP about HARRY POTTER. where’s my poisons of caux movie. where’s my poisons of caux extended universe. this book shaped my childhood, a substantial amount of my interests, and my entire fiction-writing path. i’m going to SHAKE you.

you don’t understand; the worldbuilding in this book is SO good. don’t even talk to me. don’t TALK to me.
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 rated it it was amazing
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...
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Maris Bave
While I enjoyed this jaunt into a simple middle-grade story where I didn't really have to think about anything, I wasn't super impressed by it. The worldbuilding was confusing and showed a deep lack of imagination and forethought. I could not tell what time period it was set in, for example, because while many midevil stereotypes were there, there were also trains. But no mention of electricity? No automobiles? (A mountain rage called the Craggy Burls? Are you serious?)

The premise of poisoning y
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Skye (Skye's Scribblings)
2.5 Stars. While a seriously wandering and inconstant read, this was a relatively interesting and magical story that hit the spot for my "young and magical" craving. Think I'll even give the second book a try someday. ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
As I started The Hollow Bettle, I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to enjoy it. It seemed the type of quirky that I don’t like, the type of quirky to cover up mediocre plot and characters, the type of quirky that seems self-indulgent and unnecessary.

However, as the story wore on, I started to enjoy myself more and more. The world is pretty interesting, and even though the major plot trope is unoriginal, the setting and the characters themselves are intriguing enough to carry through. I was
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the first book in the series. The kingdom of Caux has been transformed under King Nightshade; once healers were revered, now poisoners rule supreme. Ivy has been in the care of her uncle, a man noted for his potions. While she wants to learn more about poisons, he has been trying to convince her away from that way of life. When he leaves on a secret journey, she is left in the disreputable care of a man who is more interested in taking over the pub than anything else. Ivy finds that she ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, 2018read, 2-10, bad
The Hollow Bettle follows the adventures of Ivy Manx, a young girl who leaves her home to find her uncle after he mysteriously disappears. Ivy lives in the land of Caux, where poisoning runs rampant after the evil King Nightshade outlaws all apotheopaths. Ivy escapes her house, (where she is accompanied by an evil taster,) and flees with a failed taster named Rowan. This story's world is mildly interesting, but we never really see any interesting parts. Poison is rarely even used in the story. I ...more
Jan 16, 2021 marked it as paused
Shelves: 2020, ebook
moving this to my on hold, as it got auto returned today and I'm just not feeling it. i'll likely move this to dnf eventually. I've been trying to slog through it but it's just not really piquing(?) my interest. i was really drawn in by the cover so i was hoping this would turn out to be a nice little gem i just magically found from my trawling of libby. but sometimes things just don't work out yanno ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a great idea for a story, but I just didn't like the writing style. For some reason it just didn't flow and I had to reread many times what I've just read, like the last sentence .. I also didn't feel like I cared about the characters in this book, believe me I wanted to!!!! I will read the next book cause I've already bought it...
This book was just ok for me.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book last year but I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read The Tasters Guild. My friend and I had to check it out from the same library and she got very violent (I'm okay) when I renewed it instead of returning it. 😋 ...more
Bree Turner
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent mAgical adventure, female heroine
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s-books
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
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 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
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
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Elisa Klope
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2011 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
Book Elf
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
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. ...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

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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