Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Blackthorn Key

The Blackthorn Key

Fall 2015 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Kevin Sands
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481446518
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Christopher Rowe is the young apprentice of a master apothecary in 17th-century London. The apothecaries are an elite and mysterious group, with recipes and potions and magical cures for practically anything. So why are these healers are being murdered?

When Christopher's own (and beloved) master is murdered, he leaves behind an intriguing trail of clues. It's up to Christopher and his best friend, Tom, to solve them and figure out who's responsible for the gruesome acts that have been thinning their circle. The answer is right there, if Christopher can keep deciphering complex puzzles and codes.

Plot twists turn into grisly dark alleys, everything is cold and wet, and no one can be trusted. The mood is aptly dark.

This is an interesting book with a unique premise that's also witty and fun -- a story middle grade readers can sink their teeth into. Though I'd recommend, as the author wryly does, they not try Master Benedict's recipes at home.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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