Review Blog

Jul 08 2013

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

cover image

Text, 2012
Recommended. For this reader The Apothecary is an old fashioned yarn and quite 'old school' which is in no way intended to undermine its charm and the sheer pleasure of the story. The story is set in 1952 and the action recalled by Janie who has had the memories of this year in her life erased for many years.
Prompted by the return of her diary from this year she recollects her time in London where she moves to with her parents when she is fourteen from Los Angeles. There she meets Benjamin at her new school, he is the son of the Apothecary and she is a little keen on him. The action starts quickly when the Apothecary disappears and Janie and Benjamin are left with the precious Pharmacopoeia which a host of unsavory characters are seeking.
Magic, spells and spies are involved and a cast of eccentrics, as Benjamin and Janie seek the truth and begin their journey which takes them to the wild seas off the Arctic Circle where the Russians are about to ignite a nuclear bomb. Using the powers from the Pharmacopoeia and showing great bravery Benjamin and Janie fight the spies above the wild seas, the action being worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster.
There are many bases covered in this 'fish out of water' story which features a blossoming romance between Janie and Ben, some great eccentric characters and is a wonderful adventure with a twist of fantasy. The reader needs to take care reading the 'note to the reader' and like me go back and read it again when they have finished this very enjoyable story.
While it may need some promotion I recommend this title for those who enjoy a good adventure story with a twist of young romance.
Michael Jongen
Editor's note: The Apothecary was a ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012, CILIP Carnegie longlist 2013, E.B. White Read-Aloud Award - Middle Reader

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