The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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ApothecaryIt’s 1952 and Janie Scott’s family have moved from Los Angeles to London for reasons she doesn’t fully understand. Unhappy and lonely, Janie gets a homesickness cure from the neighbourhood apothecary and develops a friendship with his son Benjamin Burrows; a boy who has no interest in being an apothecary but dreams of becoming a spy.

Benjamin’s father disappears, and in order to find him, Benjamin and Janie must unlock the secrets of the Pharmacopoeia, the apothecary’s book of remedies. In this ancient book they discover elixirs with the powers to transform humans in ways they never dreamt possible. Janie and Benjamin become caught up in a race to save the apothecary, keep the secret elixirs out of the hands of Russian spies, and prevent impending nuclear disaster.

The Apothecary seizes your attention from the very first chapter. There is intrigue aplenty and the storyline is complemented by Ian Schoenherr’s illustrations which open each chapter. This book will appeal to intermediate age students and those who enjoy Harry Potter. It will also be a useful addition to a library’s repertoire of read-aloud titles.

This is Maile Meloy’s first novel for young readers and another book about Janie and Benjamin is already in the pipeline.

More information on the author and her other books can be found on The books' website includes a book trailer and a teaching guide.

review by Debbie

image by world of jam