Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: The Blackthorn Key

Publish February 4, 2016

Apprenticed to eccentric apothecary Benedict Blackthorn, fourteen-year-old, Christopher Rowe considers himself very fortunate: his master doesn’t beat him, he never goes hungry, and he’s fascinated by the intricate formulas and potions of his new trade. Everything changes when apothecaries across London start being tortured and killed, supposedly by the mysterious Cult of the Archangel. Christopher finds himself in possession of a code that seems to lead to whatever it is the Cult is so desperate to find. Accompanied by his unshakably loyal friend, Tom, Christopher must use all his training to decipher the code and protect the valuable secret he discovers from being used for nefarious means. A fast-paced, thrilling adventure story, The Blackthorn Key is a promising debut from author Kevin Sands.A few supernatural elements place the novel firmly in the realm of fantasy, and Reformation England comes alive though Christopher’s narration, unpleasant odors and all. Christopher himself is an irresistible main character, curious enough to always be getting into trouble, but willing to cheerfully accept the consequences of his mischief. Christopher’s deep respect and love for his Master add the emotional tug needed to keep the novel from being merely a quest to crack a code and solve a mystery. Filled with intrigue and suspense, The Blackthorn Key will appeal to readers looking for a story with a bit of danger, some humour, and a few very satisfying explosions.  

The Blackthorn Key

Kevin Sands
Aladdin- Simon and Schuster Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-4814-4651-8