Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in The Apothecary series
Source: ARC from Librarything Early Reviewers
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through Librarythings Early Reviewer program. I read Meloy’s book The Aporthecary last year and really enjoyed it. This book was a good follow-up to that one. I really enjoyed the magic and the setting. I assume there will be another book after this one, since things weren’t resolved in this book, but I haven’t been able to find any release information about the third book.
Two years have passed since Janie and Benjamin worked together. Janie is going to school and has developed an experimental method to remove the salt from water, making it drinkable. When Janie’s classmate’s father takes an interest in Janie’s experiment, Janie ends up in trouble. Janie is expelled from school wrongfully because of this man’s influence and ends up living in the upstairs apartment of an Italian restaurant. Meanwhile Benjamin is traveling the world with his father healing people and has developed a way to communicate with people long distance via a powder. While experimenting with this method of communication with Janie, he finds out Janie is in trouble and calls in their friends to rescue.
This was a very nicely done sequel to The Apothecary. This book has a little bit of everything in it. It is set in a historical setting, Cold War era. There is some inventing, some science, some magic, some mystery, and some adventure. The story jumps back and forth between the main four characters, usually I am not a fan of this…but it works really well for this book.
We hear from Janie, Benjamin, Pip, and Jin Lo. Things are not completely wrapped up at the end of the book, so I expect there will be another book in this series.
Janie is trying to make a living for herself and continue experimenting. She loves school but misses Benjamin and the adventures they had.
Benjamin is off with his father using the Pharmacopoeia to help wounded in war-ridden Vietnam. Pip is a famous English television star and Jin Lo is at home trying to pick up the pieces after her family’s death in China.
Things get exciting when Janie is kidnapped. She thinks that the man who kidnapped her is after her desalination experiment. However, as events unfold we find out that all of this ties back into the Cold War. Janie and her friends will have to once again join forces if they are to stop nuclear weapons and save millions of lives.
This book does get pretty dark at parts. The scenes in Vietnam and Jin Lo’s recollection of her family’s death are gruesome. The characters all grow some, but they don’t change much. The focus on the story is more about adventure and unraveling the mystery behind Janie’s kidnapping.
The story is an excellent blend of Cold War politics, magic, adventure, and mystery. I love how the characters work together to foil the bad guy. There is supposed to be some excellent artwork in here as well, but the review copy I had did not have artwork yet…so I can’t comment on that.
Overall I enjoyed reading this book and thought it was well written. I enjoy the characters and loved how elements of magic were blended in with adventure and historical accounts. It was fun to read and I would recommend to those who like historical fiction with a bit of magic in it.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Reading Challenge