The Blackthorn Key
Author: Kevin Sands
Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~
London, 1665. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe is apprenticed to master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. In Blackthorn's shop, Christopher learns the delicate secrets of transforming simple ingredients into powerful medicines, potions and weapons. His beloved master guides him with a firm, steady hand - instilling him with confidence and independence that prove increasingly vital as Christopher learns of a mysterious cult preying on the most learned men in London. The murders are growing closer and closer to home and soon Christopher is torn from the shop with only a page of cryptic clues from his master and the unambiguous warning: 'Tell no one'.
Helped by his best friend, Tom, Christopher must decipher his master's clues, following a trail of deceit towards an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart
You know what I loved about The Blackthorn Key? It is so unique, and so interesting, and we’re talking about a middle grade book here, and I know that sounds bad, and I’m being a little harsh, but the problem I have with middle grades, the rare times I read them, is that they feel underdeveloped to me, but The Blackthorn Key is none of those things.
Set in London, 1665, The Blackthorn Key is about great friendship, and different kinds of relationships that can mean more of a bond than blood. Christopher is an orphan, but is not an apprentice to Master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn, and Blackthorns different, he’s more of a father figure to him, helps him without expecting anything in return, and unlike other Master’s, he doesn’t hit or abuse his apprentice. Then we have Tom, the best friend, who although not an apprentice or an orphan, gets beaten by his father, their friendship is what keeps the two of them going, and it’s so nice to see such a good friendship.
There’s a mystery in The Blackthorn Key, well, there are a lot of little mysteries that lead to the bigger mystery, and the little ones are so much fun because you have codes and symbols and you get to work out the clues the same time Christopher and Tom do, that were left by Blackthorn. Then we have the murders and the secret society, which isn’t all it seems, either.
While The Blackthorn Key is about apothecary and all that goes with it, making medicines and potions, and if mixed right, explosions, it also hints at alchemy, too.