Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Apothecary

One of the books I got for Christmas was The Apothecary by Maile Meloy. I didn't know anything about it, but it automatically gained some points in its favor when I learned that it's a YA novel that was one of Ann Patchett's favorite book picks from last year.

Set in the 1950's, the story follows Janie Scott, an American teenager who moves to London after her Hollywood screenwriter parents are blacklisted by the House Un-American Acvitivies Committee. Once in London, she meets the local apothecary who, like a Herbology professor straight out of Hogwarts, has the secret ability to use rare plants to create potions with magical effects, like making time stand still or turning people into birds. When the apothecary is abducted by Russian spies, Janie and the apothecary's son embark on a mission to rescue him.

There were one or two things in the book that made me scratch my head a bit. I don't think the 50's-era setting was captured as well as it could have been, and I'm not sure that the Cold War backdrop was the best choice for the book to begin with. I was only aware of those qualms when I took a step back from the story, though. Most of the time, I was completely engaged by the magical elements, fast-paced plot, and sympathetic characters. Don't think my complaints were anything more than minor ones. It's a fun, entertaining book that makes me wish I knew more actual young adults to recommend it to.


  1. This sounds wonderful! I was just longing for a book to get sucked into. This might be it. Thanks for posting!



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