|THE APOTHECARY-mystery book review|
Penguin Young Readers Group
Available: Hardcopy, paperback, Kindle, audible, audio
Fourteen-year-old Janie Scott is not happy that her parents have taken jobs in London. Why can't they just stay in Hollywood? Everyone knows there are more film jobs in California than in England in 1952. But it's not her choice and she's miserable in her new home, a small, cold, walk-up flat. She meets a mysterious apothecary who gives her an elixir to make her less homesick. Even though she thinks it won't work, she takes it. Later at school, she meets his son, Benjamin. The only thing the two seem to have in common is that neither is happy with their parents' current employment. She dreams of returning to California. He dreams of becoming a spy. Benjamin's father is kidnapped. Suddenly they are thrust into a secret world of danger, intrigue and magic. It's up to them to save him and the world. They can't do either until they unravel the ancient secrets in his father's secret book: The Pharmacopia. Sounds easy, but isn't. Not when it's written in an ancient language and the bad guys are out to steal it.
This was a fun mixture of magic, alchemy, intrigue, adventure and mystery. While it's obvious the Cold War inspired the story, is doesn't get in the way or over- power the growing friendship between Janie and Benjamin in their race against time to save the world from evil.
Target audience: Grades 5-9
Mystery/suspense: high action
Kid appeal: Mystery/magic fans