30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, 362 pages, read by Courtney, on 07/09/2013

It’s 1952 and Janie’s family has found it necessary to leave their sunny LA home for the dramatically different city of London. Janie hates the fact that they had to move, but in this particular era, certain political views can make anyone a target; in this case, Janie’s parents. Shortly after her move to London, Janie meets the local apothecary and his son, Benjamin. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Benjamin and Janie are left in charge of an ancient text, the Pharmacoepia, and are instructed to guard it with their lives. After a bit of experimentation proves that the recipes and spells in the Pharmacoepia are real, Janie and Benjamin realize that the stakes are higher than they had originally thought possible and that they must keep the Pharmacoepia safe from those who would wish their countries harm, namely Russia.
I’ve previously enjoyed Maile Meloy’s work and was excited to find that she was writing for younger audiences. This book was a delightful mix of historical fiction, espionage and magic. The characters are charming and clever and the situations they find themselves in are both humorous and exciting. This wound up being a great choice for my middle school book group. All of my readers thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns, as well as the historical angle.

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