Blackthorn Key

Blackthorn Key ...

First-time novelist Sands has written an exciting and self-assured tale of alchemy and dark secrets set during the late-17th-century reign of King Charles II. Fourteen-year-old orphan Christopher Rowe is lucky to be apprenticed to a kindly apothecary, Master Benedict Blackthorn. But someone—the Cult of the Archangel, it is rumored—is murdering London’s apothecaries, believing that members of the Apothecary’s Guild are concealing a dangerous secret. Christopher is an easygoing boy, fond of pranks and experiments (the book opens with his ill-advised and ill-fated attempt at mixing up some gunpowder), but after Master Benedict is assaulted, he finds himself on the run, pursued by the murderous henchmen of a rival apothecary and the dangerous Lord Richard Ashcombe, His Majesty’s Warden. Sands adeptly balances the novel’s darker turns with moments of levity and humor, and fills the book with nicely detailed characters and historical background—plus lots of explosions. It’s a story that should have broad appeal, while especially intriguing readers with an existing interest in chemistry, history, and decoding puzzles. – Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

…impeccably researched…Sands's representation of the teeming, stinking streets of 17th-century London is remarkable in its detail…the story gains a relentless momentum in the second half, when Christopher shines as a humorous narrator who is flawed enough to be relatable, but not so flawed that we can't imagine him succeeding in his quest. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the book is the trust Christopher's master places in him. In a genre where many adults are either dead, detached or outright villainous, a caring adult with complete faith in his charge's savvy is a nice change. The true villains of the book are cleverly concealed, resulting in a puzzle-filled, satisfyingly twisty tale. – New York Times

Blackthorn Key ...

• Novel
• Author: Kevin Sands
• Ages: 10-14
• Grades 5-9 /384-544 pages
• 5.6”x 8.4”x 1.4”
• Hardcover Editions
• $54.97

Blackthorn Key (3 titles)
The Blackthorn Key
Mark of the Plague
The Assassin’s Curse

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