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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (ARC REVIEW)

The Apothecary by Genre: YA Fantasy - Publisher: Putnam Juvenile - Publication date: October 4, 2011 - Format:Paperback ARC - Pages: 368 - Source: Once Upon a Twilight

It's 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows - a fascinating boy who's not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary's sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies - Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.
Together with Ian Schoenherr's breathtaking illustrations, this is a truly stunning package from cover to cover. (

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book. The synopsis sounded original and interesting, but I didn't realize how fun this book would be.

The beginning is pretty dull, and I had a hard time getting interested at first, but after Janie moves to London and meets Benjamin, my boredom immediately ceased. Those two are characters that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about by themselves, but loved their interactions with one another even more. Benjamin comes off bold and kind of sketchy at first, but I knew he was a character I wanted more of from the very beginning. There is not excessive romance between the two of them, but there are a few sweet moments that made me gush! Even better, is that their relationship totally has a foundation and it is obvious that they are good for each other.

But they are not the only characters! There is Pip the pick-pocket with strange charm, and Janie's parents who are just a total hoot and remind me of my dad! Every character has unique traits and brought something really special to the table. Then the magic was introduced and I was hooked. This book sort of revolves around a special book that contains recipes to unique magical elixirs. I'm not going to spoil the recipes used, but they are certainly entertaining.

There was quite a bit of political dispute in this book, which makes sense considering it takes place in the fifties. I enjoyed it, however, I was slightly confused because my brain doesn't like to comprehend anything that has to do with politics.

The plot of this book could get sort of dry, but I was always interested. What is going to happen next? How are the characters going to get themselves out of this rut? What elixir is going to be introduced? Those were questions I was asking myself during the reading, and each one of them propelled me further into the book.

I loved the ending. The last hundred pages are epic! I couldn't put it down. I could really see how the characters developed and I couldn't help but love each of them more. And, might I add, there was a mention of Sarasota, Florida, which is where I was born and raised, so this book definitely wiggled its way further into my heart with that!

This book is clean and fun, and safe for readers of all ages! It's got some history in it and nuclear bombs are a large part of it. All in all, it was a good read. I'd love to see a sequel written.

  • The illustrations. I was reading from an ARC so all of the pictures were not there, but the ones that were were absolutely fabulous. It;s been a while since I read a book with pictures and I enjoyed connecting the pictures to the chapter.
  • The events. I know this kind of sounds like a given, but I love the events that occur in this book. Just certain situations that the characters find themselves in I never expected.
  • The message. Okay, so it's not a hidden message or anything, but  really like how this book deals with the after effects of WWII. I mean, the people in London are lucky to even have a BATHROOM!

This isn't really my usual cup of tea, so I'm not sure what books to recommend!

1 comment:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I love to hear from my readers, whether they agree or disagree with my opinion :) I do my best to get back to every commenter, though I am not always successful. Heh...Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you have to say! :D

~ Gabbi