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The Apothecaryby Maile Meloy
A whimsical adventure with elements of intrigue and menace, The Apothecary is a sweet coming-of-age tale set in Cold War London. Like the tonics and balms in the story, the author deftly mixes the first whispers of love and heartache with just the right amount of teenage awkwardness, melancholy, and frustration. Maile Meloy may be overshadowed by her better-known brother (Colin, of the Decemberists and Wildwood fame), but in young adult literature, little brother could take a few tips from his sister.
Synopses & Reviews
It's 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, 14-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.
"When the House Committee on Un-American Activities targets Janie's television writer parents, the 14-year-old and her family flee from Los Angeles to London. There, Janie meets Benjamin, a 'defiant' classmate, and his father, the neighborhood apothecary, who is involved in much more than hot water bottles and aspirin. In fact, he is part of a long line of apothecaries who have discovered miraculous secrets — truth serums, invisibility, amazing physical transformations — and he is now working with scientists on an incredible plan that has global ramifications with regard to the escalating tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. Some readers may need to brush up on cold war history to fully appreciate the stakes, but even those with a vague understanding of the times will be quickly swept up in this thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance. With evocative, confident prose and equally atmospheric spot art from Schoenherr, adult author Meloy's first book for young readers is an auspicious one. Readers will hope they haven't heard the last from Janie and Benjamin. Ages 10 and up. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The book, with its intricately constructed plot, well-paced suspense, credibly rendered fantastical elements, thoughtfully drawn characters and authentically detailed settings, satisfies on all levels." Krystyna Poray Goddu, The New York Times Book Review
"[The Apothecary's] blend of history, culture and the anxiety of the time with magical 'science' will keep readers just as spellbound as the characters." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Maile Meloy (www.mailemeloy.com) is the award-winning author of the short story collection Half in Love and the novels Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Liars and Saints, and A Family Daughter. This is her first novel for young readers. She lives in California.
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