Monday, August 20, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Apothecary

Shannon Messenger, the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, wrote an MMGM on The Apothecary by Maile Meloy last fall, and ever since, it was on my to-read list. Earlier this summer, I finally read it, and Wow! It's something special. Definitely an upper middle grade read because of its twisty, historically-based (but also magically-related) plot, I'd also classify it as one of those in-between books--somewhere between middle grade and YA. But it's simply awesome. 

The premise: It's 1952 and the Cold War is in full swing, as is the Communist Hunt (the Red Scare) in the United States. Fourteen-year-old Janie Scott moves to London with her parents to escape what the U.S. government is doing to those with suspected Communist sympathies. In London, Janie meets the Apothecary, and he harbors dangerous secrets. He also has a son named Benjamin. And then the Apothecary goes missing . . .

What keeps readers reading: An inventive blend of history mixed with magic. When Janie and Benjamin discover the strength of the secrets Benjamin's father holds--and a sense of why people want him dead--they will stop at nothing to get the Apothecary back. Suddenly, the Apothecary's job, which never interested Benjamin, is very important to him . . . and to everyone else.

What I loved: This is a historical unlike any other I've read--and I've read MANY. The Apothecary has this super cool magic element and it mixes that with historical undertones. It takes science, nature, medicine, and magic and flips it all into something that's designed to help the world. The novel left me with that "if only this were true" and "why does this have to be fiction" feeling.

For more middle grade recommendations, visit the links right here: Shannon Messenger's blog.
Happy middle grade reading!
 

23 comments:

  1. I love it when books are set in the 1950s! And there's a magical element, too? I will definitely have to keep an eye out for this book!

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  2. This has got to go on the list. Thanks!

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  3. The title alone intrigues me. Thanks for the review.

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  4. I picked this one up at BEA this year, and it's gorgeous cover is just sitting there... waiting for me to pick it up. Can't wait to read it!

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  5. I haven't heard of this one- but you can bet I just added it to my list! Wow! The cover and review have me itching to read it. I love that you wanted it to be real instead of fiction.
    ~Jess

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  6. This one is a definite read for me. I love the cover. I love the premise and the historical period. Thanks for the heads up on this one, Barbara.

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  7. I do like a good mixture of science and the supernatural! Thanks for the review.

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  8. This sounds like an interesting book. I love historical fiction and the two MG manuscripts I have written take place in the early 1960s. Thanks for the review. I love the cover, too.

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  9. I agree with all of the above. It was a nice blend and a great read. I was sad when it was over.

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  10. Thanks for reviewing this one. I've seen it everywhere, but didn't know a lot about it. Putting it on my TBR list. Thanks!

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  11. Sounds wonderful. Just added it to my list. :)

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  12. Ooo, I desperately want to read this. Have you seen the trailer? It's gorgeous.

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  13. This sounds intriguing. I tend toward upper MG anyway, so I'll check it out!

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  14. That might be where I saw this one before. I think you've tipped the scale. It's going on the tbr list.

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  15. This ones sounds so good! I love a mix of magic and history.

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  16. I have had this book in my Amazon cart forever! Sounds like one we might all enjoy over here! Looking forward to a less busy autumn where we can curl up and read more!

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  17. Pretty cover... thanks for sharing. So many books, so little time. And I'm sure you want your ms back soon, so I will have to resist the temptation of this one for now! :-)

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  18. Oooh, sounds like my kind of book, too. Mystery, history, and magic . . . I've seen it around but never really knew what it was about. Thanks, Barbara!

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  19. Ah, you know I love historical fiction. This sounds like a good one. I will check it out.

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  20. This sounds really cool. I was just thinking today how I love these MG books that have a little magical element to them. I'll have to add this to my list.

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  21. And Joanne Fritz emailed THE APOTHECARY's trailer link to me...thought I'd share it here too (it's VERY cool). I know links don't show up as a 'clickable' link here in the comments, but copy/paste it if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH-BGOQMClk

    And certainly read the book! It's more than marvelous!

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  22. I loved the fantasy elements in this one - they were so unique it was refreshing. I didn't think the politics portion of the book would resonate well with middle grade aged kids though.

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

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  23. I have it on my to-read list too! Loved your review, hope to get to it soon!

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