The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

29th September 2011

*I received a signed copy of this book from the author at BEA. She inscribed it “For Jennifer, the discerning girl.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Transcript: “London. An American girl new to the city meets a boy whose father possesses a powerful book full of ancient spells and magical potions which might just be what they need to save the world.”

With a bit of spywork, a lot of adventure, and a good dose of Cold-War-era history, The Apothecary was just a really fun book. I love the premise: the apothecary has a real potion book that the Soviet Union is trying to get its hands on, and after Benjamin’s father disappears, it’s up to Jane and Benjamin to use the spell book and protect it in order to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys are. Along the way, they meet Pip who helps them outwit the double agent out to get the Pharmacoepia, Benjamin’s father’s book. Pip was actually my favorite character because he brought a bit of grit and a whole lot of humor to the novel.

I’ve waited until closer to its publication date to review it, but my enthusiasm hasn’t diminished. It isn’t a perfect book. There were some unanswered questions, and I think the characterization could have been a bit stronger, but I’m hopeful this is (maybe) the first in a series, and I would definitely pick up a sequel.

Plus, this is an absolutely beautiful book. Illustrated by Ian Schoenherr, I absolutely prize this book above many of the others I got at BEA, even though some of the pages are unfinished.

Run out and grab it, or order it from Indiebound.


  • Yvette

    I love a well designed book. Thanks for this review, it looks like something I might like to get my hands on.

    I love the author’s inscription. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Isn’t that great? I loved it.

      And yes, it’s a really beautiful book and very fanciful. Reminds me more of middle grade I read when I was young.

  • I’ve been wanting to read this SO BAD!

    • Well pre-order away! You’ll get it next week!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That is a wonderful trailer. I love your taste in books, you’ve not steered me wrong yet. I will be adding this to my TBR for sure. I love when books aren’t perfect but yet you still like them regardless.

    • Isn’t it a great trailer? I don’t often like them, but this one is so cool.

      Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy this one if you pick it up.

  • what a lovely cover and sounds like a delightful story…. just read your tags – is it middle grade? I would love for my daughter to read this one!

    • It IS middle grade. I hope she enjoys it. It’s really a fun book, and I’m hopeful there might be a sequel.