Saturday, April 7, 2012
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy is an interesting blend of fantasy and alternate history. When Janie's family moves to post-WW2 London, she's not at all happy about her new home. Things start to improve for her when she makes friends with Benjamin, a handsome boy from her new school. Benjamin's father is an apothecary . . . a trade which proves more interesting than it first seems. Benjamin's father disappears, leaving Benjamin to protect an ancient book, the Pharmacopeia. Benjamin is skeptical about the merits of the book, which holds recipes for transformation, invisibility, and other improbables -- but it is true that strange and sinister individuals seem to be after the book. What are these people looking for? Do the magical recipes in the book really work? And what does all of this have to do with the Cold War, Communism, and the testing of a new atomic bomb?
I very much enjoyed this book. The characters are well-developed and the action moves at just the right pace. The magic system is fascinating, if not fully explained, and setting it in post-war London adds an interesting flavor to the mix.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)