Monday, 16 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands - Book Review

Follow the clues. Crack the code. Stay alive.
Potions, puzzles and the occasional explosion are all in a day's work for young apothecary Christopher Rowe. Murder is another matter.
It's a dangerous time to be the apprentice of Benedict Blackthorn. A wave of mysterious murders has sent shockwaves through London, and soon Christopher finds himself on the run. His only allies are his best friend, Tom, courageous Molly, and a loyal feathered friend, Bridget. His only clues are a coded message about his master's most dangerous project, and a cryptic warning - 'Tell no one!'
The race is on for Christopher: crack the code and uncover its secret, or become the next victim . . .

It's time to set the course of your fantasy compass to this epic middle grade adventure written by Kevin Sands. This is a global debut novel that every imaginative young boy/girl will love to read. It is a book born out of pure dreaming; a fantastic page turner set among the apothecaries and secret alchemists of London in 1665. The hero of the day is Christopher Rowe, a clever young boy with a mischievous heart, who is apprenticed as an apothecary to Master Benedict Blackthorn. 

The story is highly interactive with codes to crack and secret doors to open or perhaps even close. You will find yourself hurtling through this high octane fuelled plot as you uncover and foil some nasty conspiracies. The historical touch feels period and is believable of the time. In my opinion, it has all been very well researched and thought out. It's an insight into a little time capsule of an era that has changed dramatically in comparison to now.  It's really engaging and easy to read with a a narrative that will sweep you off your fantasy feet. 

The story has a fantastic blend of mystery, violence and danger. You will find yourself prowling through the dangerous streets of London in search of whispers and hidden truths. The author has a great flair and an original way of disposing of some of the characters, which makes it engaging with a no nonsense attitude. I really liked this - it is a strong point of the book! However, parts of the story are very descriptive and slightly graphic, so use caution if you're a parent buying this book for a child as it might be too graphic for them to handle. 

The only negative element that I have to mention relates to the main characters. It might have added a new dimension and additional depth if one the characters had been an action female. 

This book ticks a lot of boxes that will leave everyone with a good feeling about this book. It's magical, full of action, pranks and has a playful heart. It also explores themes of astronomy, botany and most of all chemistry. It's very exciting; the setting is very engrossing and encapsulates this time period very well.The characters feel real, fun and very likeable which is a massive achievement. I would definitely give this book a solid recommendation for anyone who loves a well plotted adventure that will transport you into a world of secrets, which is full of conspiracy and action. 

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