The Blackthorn Key (Paperback)
Other Books in Series
This is book number 1 in the The Blackthorn Key series.
Set in the 1600s, this is a fast paced, action-packed adventure with truly memorable characters, especially the apothecary’s apprentice, who solves puzzles and riddles, but sometimes blurts out funny, middle ages humor - this will resonate with Percy Jackson fans. Loved by Maureen— Maureen Palacios
Exciting, fast-paced story of Christopher, the apprentice to an apothecary who is involved in several mysterious deaths. One of the best kids' novels I've read this year. I felt like I was in their world for days afterwards! - Nikki— From Staff Picks by Nikki
Following a series of murders, an apothecary’s apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this “spectacular debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”
Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.
But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.
In his stunning debut novel, Kevin Sands brings readers on a heart-stopping adventure rich with suspense, mystery, and unforgettable characters.
About the Author
Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of the award-winning and bestselling Blackthorn Key series.
"Captivating! A masterful page-turner brimming with secrets, traps, friendship, intrigue, pigeons, potions, loyalty, and explosions. Kevin Sands has created an engaging, kind-hearted, and humorous young hero in apothecary's apprentice Christopher Rowe. This thrilling adventure will keep you hooked."
— Ingrid Law
"Magic, adventure, and things that go boom--I love this book."
— Eoin Colfer
"First-time novelist Sands has written an exciting and self-assured tale of alchemy and dark secrets . . . Sands adeptly balances the novel’s darker turns with moments of levity and humor, and fills the book with nicely detailed characters and historical background—plus lots of explosions. It’s a story that should have broad appeal, while especially intriguing readers with an existing interest in chemistry, history, and decoding puzzles."
— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"A spectacular debut."
— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
An auspicious debut middle grade novel. Set in the 1600s, the story revolves around Christopher Rowe, the apprentice to a Master Apothecary. After losing his master, Christopher begins to unravel a series of complex codes that his master had, unbeknownst to Chris, been preparing him to solve all along. The more that the protagonist uncovers, the more he finds himself in danger, along with his loyal-to-a-fault best friend. The story is well paced, managing not only to keep readers hooked, but also second guessing everything they think they know. Sands integrates a series of fun and interesting riddles and codes with chemistry concepts—no easy feat. The ending is dynamic and rewarding, with just the right blend of the fantastical and realistic. One of the true triumphs is the author’s ability to create a character who feels accurate for the time period, while also displaying a modern sensibility that will keep readers engaged. The action does get intense, but would still be appropriate for upper elementary school students. VERDICT This is an excellent story for readers who enjoy puzzles, action, and fantasy; keep an eye out for future installments
— School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
"An auspicious debut middle grade novel . . . The story is well paced, managing not only to keep readers hooked, but also second guessing everything they think they know. Sands integrates a series of fun and interesting riddles and codes with chemistry concepts—no easy feat. The ending is dynamic and rewarding, with just the right blend of the fantastical and realistic. One of the true triumphs is the author’s ability to create a character who feels accurate for the time period, while also displaying a modern sensibility that will keep readers engaged . . . VERDICT This is an excellent story for readers who enjoy puzzles, action, and fantasy; keep an eye out for future installments."
— School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
"An inspired blend of action, adventure, science, history, and humor, filled with fascinating facts, clever codes, and wonderful characters."
— Stuart Gibbs
The Smoke Thieves slowly drew me in until I couldn't put it down. The strong voices and the fact that the stories don't seem like one until you realize that they have become one. The plot was fast and entertaining. I loved this book and would recommend it to anybody who loves medieval fantasies. - Kaitlyn, customer age 13