Friday, July 17, 2015

Books for Tweens: The Blackthorn Key {review}

Following a series of murders, an apothecary’s apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this suspenseful debut novel.
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.” 
Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way. 
But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.


The Blackthorn Key is the first novel from author Kevin Sands. Historical fiction, mystery, suspense, adventure - this book presents a compelling tale that will draw you in and keep you hooked. On top of that, the characters are relatable and well-developed, so you do care what happens to them.

This may be a kid's book, but I have to say I loved it. The story is interesting. The clues keep you guessing. And, as a history major, I appreciated the historical context that Sands provides. The environment in this book is rich with details and paints an excellent picture of the times. I finished it in two sittings and have added it to Boo's bookshelf for him to read soon.

The main character, the orphan Christopher Rowe, faces many obstacles, but he is determined to unravel the mystery and find out who is behind all the murders. He is resilient, intelligent, and ready for adventure. He also makes mistakes, and blows things up (sometimes accidentally) and will be readily recognised as a peer by kids reading this. The book provides everything from adventure to humour to sorrow, and does a good job balancing the darker moments with the light. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Recommended for grades 3-7, The Blackthorn Key releases September 1, 2015, but you can pre-order your copy from Amazon.ca today:

Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of this book to facilitate this review. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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