Christopher needs your help solving clues!

Summary:

As a young apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn, Christopher Rowe (14) should be learning about medicine, potions, and ciphers. But when other apothecaries throughout London are struck by a vicious murderer, he knows it's only time before his master’s store becomes a target. Working with his friend Tom, they follow the evidence, decipher the puzzles, and work to decode the clues ... all the while dodging conspiracies and other untrustworthy characters. In 1600s, the streets of London were perilous. Christopher is learning just how dangerous they can be. 


BTSYA / Teen Reader (13):
The atmosphere and setting of old London is rustic, medieval, and portrayed with vivid imagery. I love the depth and accuracy of historical detail blended into the story, while maintaining an easier reading level. No time is wasted on following false leads or mistaken clues, which keeps the story moving at an excellent pace. Readers will love to follow along and try solving some of the puzzles (provided with enough detail for you to attempt).

Christopher is humorous and intelligent in a clear-headed, realistic way  His personality and actions were also true to his age. Although he was brilliant in many different aspects, he still demonstrates curiosity and a sense of adventure. In being more historically accurate, the story is heavily male-centric. That was a drawback for me. It would be nice to see more involvement of female cast members (not including Christophers friend pigeon, Bridget).

The story is marketed to a middle grade (preteen, early teen) audience, as the characters and content match well with this group. However, I thought the gory details skewed it older. I think it is better suited for readers 12 and older.  


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

If you like getting involved in the mysteries you read, then The Blackthorn Key is for you! Suspense, mystery, plenty of action, and the opportunity to solve some of the clues will keep readers engaged and turning pages from beginning to end. 

Content Awareness Factors:

The plot contains violence.


Type of Book:
This is the first book in an historical fiction mystery series for preteens and teens.
Educational Themes:

Setting the fantastic elements aside, there is a lot of true history of medicine crammed into the story. There are lots of great books for young readers fascinated by what an apothecary is or does. Be sure to ask your librarian.

If you are reading aloud, use the ends of chapters to pause and talk about what's happened, what your reader thinks of a particular character, and what they think will happen next.

Reading Level:
4.6
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
13 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
12 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 13
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! This is fun to read, and even after you've decoded the story the first time, re-reading it will unearth additonal clues.

Title The Blackthorn Key
About

The Blackthorn Key, Book 1

Author Kevin Sands
Publisher Aladdin, Imprint Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing © 2015
ISBN 9781481446518
Material Hard Cover
Cost $14.99
Genres Adventure, Science, Mystery, Historical Fiction, History
be the star you are Cybils
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