Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy.
14-year-old Janie Scott has grown up in Hollywood, California all her life. But her parents are staunch believers in the idea that those with more should help those with less. As this is the height of McCarthyism, they are labeled as Communists and risk prosecution if they don’t sell out their friends. So Janie and her family pull up roots and move to London where they are forced to start all over again. Janie quickly makes the acquaintance of a young boy named Benjamin, whose father runs the local apothecary.
But suddenly, Benjamin’s father goes missing and as the children begin digging to figure out what happened, they realize there is a lot more going on than it seems. Benjamin’s father has left a book called Pharmacopoeia in his care. It turns out to be full of potions that can be created using fairly common plants. Invisibility, transformation into a bird, these are just a couple of the spells they find. And the Apothecary has gotten into trouble. Working with others around the globe, they are looking for a magical solution to a real-world problem: the Cold War and the proliferation of nuclear testing. Now Janie and Benjamin are in way over their heads. Their only hope is to find his dad and hope the Pharmacopoeia can help them on the way.
This was a fun and exciting book that would be good to read aloud or for a middle school-aged child to read alone. There were a few plot points that were never clearly explained and some incidents that seemed highly implausible. Also, it was easy to tell pretty much immediately who was going to be good and who was bad. It’s possible a child wouldn’t notice or think twice about these things and this is a book for children so I’ll let it slide. Overall, The Apothecary is a harmless, fun, exciting book for fans of magic and adventure.