Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review- The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

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Middle Grade Monday time! Today I am reviewing the book, The Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands.

The Story-
Christopher Rowe was an orphan until taken in by Master Blackthorn. Now, as an apothecary apprentice, he spends his time learning about chemicals and solving puzzles that his master leaves for him. He is happy and content until he learns of several murders around town that involve other apothecaries. Now he fears for the life of his master.

When everything goes wrong, he is left with only a clue to solving the murders and a best friend who will be there until the end. The secret behind the clue could give ultimate power to the owner, and it is up to Christopher to bear its burden.

My Thoughts-
I picked up this book from the blurb, a kid who solves puzzles, just what I love. The book didn't let me down. Christopher is a strong character who truly understands the world and the evil that resides around him. He takes nothing for granted. He is blessed with a best friend that sticks to his side, and between the two, and a few big booms, they are able to figure out Master Blackthorns clues.

I felt impressed by the author's ability to weave a tale that included multiply bad guys and keep me guessing. It really was interesting to follow the layers involved and when the real bad guy stepped forward I looked back and realized that I'd liked his character, so surprise.

The one glitch was the final revelation of the mystery "formula" everyone was fighting over. I was expecting something great. The story would have us believe that the secret being hid is the ultimate element, the element of Angels that created the universe, the penultimate secret. However, the product that Christopher discovers doesn't seem so awesome, sure it is the biggest explosive known at that time, but I was expecting something the book didn't fulfill. Still, it was a fun read.

Though a middle grade novel, this book does contain a bit of violence and some of it is gruesome. I'd suggest it for older middle graders. 4 stars!


  1. Thanks for the recommendation on this one. I'd heard of THE BLACKTHORN KEY but wasn't sure what it was about. Sounds like a compelling read and I've added it to my future read list.

  2. I like the cover on this one, and it sounds like the murder mystery plot makes it a bit different than other apothecary apprentice stories (seems to be a popular trope, and why not!).

  3. This book is getting a lot of buzz and it sounds pretty good. I will try to check it out. Thanks for the review.

  4. It is always a pleasure to pass on good books!

  5. I just signed this one out from the library! Sounds like a good story.

  6. I have recently been hearing a lot about this book. I hadn't heard about the violence. Thanks for sharing. I will have to check it out!