Son1 was recently offered the chance to review The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands. Neither of us had heard of this book but son1 was very keen when he saw the word potions on the synopsis. He is currently into reading and watching Harry Potter, so potions hit the spot for him.
This is what it says on the back cover.
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…
Son1 did enjoy this book, but he found it harder going than he was anticipating, particularly to get into at the beginning, so I helped out by reading the first few chapters out loud to him, which then got him started. However he is younger than the target age and afterwards we discussed how he would probably enjoy it more in a couple of years time.
But I would like to add that it is a great read for adults as well as children. Having read the first few chapters to son1, I was gripped by the storyline and had to read the rest of the book.
It is set in London in 1665, an era that son1 enjoys in history at school. He quickly told me that was the year of the Black Plague. The main character is 14 year old Christopher Rowe, an orphan who is now an apprentice apothecary. The book starts with Christopher aided by his best friend Tom, making a cannon filled with gunpowder having deciphered his master’s coded gunpowder recipe. However it backfires, hitting a stuffed bear in the crotch, and causing a big mess, at which point his master Benedict Blackthorn returns home to survey the scene.
As events unfold, Christopher is forced to flee from his home with the murderous gang “The Cult of the Archangel” hot on his heels. He needs to evade them plus decipher the coded messages that his master has left for his eyes only. And even when he succeeds in cracking a code, it reveals a cryptic clue which needs further thought.
Here is son1’s video review of The Blackthorn Key.
The Blackthorn Key is Kevin Sands’ debut novel and is published by Puffin. It is currently retailing on Amazon for £5.99 compared to a RRP of £6.99 for a paperwork copy. It is also available in hardback and as a Kindle edition or Audio CD. It is targetted at children, age 10-14.
And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of The Blackthorn Key to five lucky winners.
a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.
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And you may see my other giveaways here.
Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.