Monday, October 17, 2011

The Apothecary

The Apothecary
by Maile Meloy
Penguin, 2011. 353 pgs. Fantasy.

Janie Scott is having a hard time adjusting to her new home in England where her parents have moved to avoid the witch-hunts of 1952 McCarthy era California. At first Janie is lonesome, cold, and intimidated by suddenly having to learn Latin. But she soon meets a stand-out young man whose mild-mannered father is an apothecary. Benjamin wants to be a spy rather than following in his father's footsteps, but when the apothecary hides the young people in the basement just before he disappears, and charges Ben with caring for an ancient Pharmacopoeia, Ben discovers his father is much more than he has ever been cracked up to be. Ben and Janie must keep the book safe while dodging Russian agents and searching for the missing apothecary. Birds in the sky, piles of salt, and pinkie fingers suddenly become magical and mysterious parts of a puzzle which will carry everyone involved into great danger as a motley assortment of kids, alchemists, scientists, mystics, and an ingenious street kid join forces to save the world from nuclear disaster. This one's a real ripsnorter with a promise of more to follow.

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