The Blackthorn Key

The Blackthorn Key

Book - 2015
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In 1665 London, fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe, apprentice to an apothecary, and his best friend, Tom, try to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult, following a trail of puzzles, codes, pranks, and danger toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.
Publisher: New York : Aladdin, 2015
Edition: First Aladdin hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781481446525
Characteristics: 371 pages ; 22 cm


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Oct 18, 2020

In 1665, Christopher Rowe is working for Benedict Blackthorn as an apothecary apprentice. Several apothecaries including one of Master Benedict's closest friends have been murdered and Christopher fears for Master Benedict, especially when he begins to stay out all night and comes home with strange injuries. When Master Benedict strikes Christopher and sends him away, he is in more emotional pain than physical. Christopher returns and finds that Master Benedict has been killed, so now he knows that Master Benedict sent him away in order to save his life. Christopher is under suspicion for his master's murder, so while he is in hiding, he starts to investigate what his master was working on that got him killed.
The Blackthorn Key is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code and other similar stories that present lots of clues that lead to more and more clues until finally the mystery is solved. Overall, this is a good middle grade mystery set in the distant past.

liljables Oct 17, 2018

This book was a great surprise! I lead the Grade 5-6-7 Book Club here at WPL, and I don't always love the middle grade books we read. But, The Blackthorn Key was a stand-out: the characters were great, I was immediately gripped by the plot, and I wasn't able to guess every twist and turn. I would recommend this to fans of adventurous historical fiction of any age.

Jul 11, 2018

This book was incredible and it had many different and interesting characters. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and magic.this book had many different potions and codes that were used by the characters:)

Wow, this is an amazing book! It was so interesting I couldn’t stop reading. The characters were great and the puzzles were all so cool! My teacher was definitely right, this book is awesome! Best Book Ever!!!!!!

Mar 08, 2018

The Blackthorn Key brings a story of alchemy, codes and puzzles, mystery, and cults, Kevin Sands does wonders as he details the struggle of Christopher Rowe. With his master gone, this apprentice takes it upon himself to uncover the truth. Very heroic. Stories filled with puzzles capture my attention quite a bit, and Kevin Sands did a really good job on the first book in this series. It left me wondering things like ‘why a cult? What happened to Master Blackthorn?’ Of course, no one really gets those answers immediately, much less Christopher. Filled with magic and adventure, it left me wanting more. I give it 4/5 stars.
@SolaceChaos of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

I absolutely love The Blackthorn Key. I love how even though it's set in a different time period it's not confusing to read. Everything is explained, so even though things are different then now, it makes sense. I also love the report titled “The Stupidest idea in the universe”. Everytime I read that, I smile. And I read this book a lot! I can’t put it down once I pick it up. It’s so fun and exciting to read. So many parts of the book make me laugh too. I really like it when I read a book that makes me laugh and is a page turner. The Blackthorn Key is an amazing book that you should read.
@ToastieTaco of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

The book is about a boy named Christopher. He is a happy boy who loves to solves puzzles and one day he receives a cryptic code. He has to use every skill he has learned from solving puzzles and solve the mystery. This was a well thought out and well-written book. I really enjoyed reading it. I was recommended this book from one of my friends and I am really glad they recommended it to me. The characters were well thought out and interesting. The book was so unexpected and always kept me on the edge of my seat. I would totally recommend this to teenagers aged 12-17. I give this book a 4.3 out of 5 stars.
@terrificbooklover of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Set in the 1600’s, this book is definitely going to keep you on the edge of your
seat to find out what’s going to happen next. Christopher Rowe’s life was ought to be
perfect until a mysterious cult begins to hunt on London’s apothecaries. Now it’s up to
Christopher Rowe to discover the key to a terrible secret in order to save the city. This
book is filled with captivating moments that involve suspense, secrets, recipes,
remedies, pigeons and more! The author did an amazing job writing this book as it
brings the reader on a spectacular adventure. It is the perfect read for teens and will
make them want to read the next parts to this series as well: Mark of the Plague, and
The Assassin’s Curse.
@JustOneMorePage... of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

JCLChrisK Feb 27, 2017

A gritty historical setting, a murderous cult, puzzles and codes to decipher, and explosively destructive science, all packaged within a fast-paced mystery that keeps the protagonist and readers off-balance. I'm requesting the sequel as soon as I finish writing this review. Definitely recommended.

From the back cover: "A WARNING: The recipes and remedies in this book were used by real apothecaries. There's a reason we don't see them anymore. Some are devious, some are dangerous, and a few are just plain deadly. So, as they say: Don't try this at home. Seriously."

Feb 16, 2017

THE BLACKTHORN KEY is a well-written, entertaining novel that is great for both introducing readers to science and puzzles but also to history and myths. Kids love to learn but not every child does well in a classroom setting, so I think this book works well as an alternative. It's also a very good book for getting kids into reading. I liked the main character but I didn't love him. I think the book could have used a bit more diversity in its cast. The main characters are all young, white boys - the group with the most representation in children's lit. It'd be amazing for non-white, non-male readers to be able to see themselves in such an entertaining novel. I'll be continuing the series but I hope to see more diversity. I was of course fully captivated by the plot!

If the lack of diversity continues, I won't be satisfied with the excuse of "historical accuracy", considering this book has a 12 year old solving a string of murders, with Greek fire (a myth) at the centre of it all. At least add a girl to the main cast.

Nov 28, 2016

An aweaome historical fantasy based set in London in the late 1600's. Mystery, alchemy, treachery and lots of explosions make it a book that is very hard to put down: make sure you had enough sleep the night before you start it.

PMPL_AnaC Aug 26, 2016

Very interesting setting and plot for a children's book. Unlike anything I've read before. Mystery, adventure, friendship.

Aug 11, 2016

Full of suspense and action .

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Add Age Suitability

indigo_hummingbird_262 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 20, 2017

indigo_magpie_20 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 19

Jun 11, 2017

tatst2002 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 16

Apr 17, 2017

TammyKR12 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 15

Aug 11, 2016

Eric_23 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and under

Jul 27, 2016

lynx_girl thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 16

Jul 08, 2016

Mardoch thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 14


Add a Summary
Jul 29, 2016

There are on the murders loose. After Christopher's master is murdered, he is left with a code. Can he crack the code and stay alive? Or will the murders catch him too? Time is running out, and Christopher is running from the murders and now the law.

Jul 08, 2016

This book is about the apothecaries Christopher and his journey of finding the secret recipe to create the power of the god while the archangel's cult is killing apothecaries across London


Add a Quote
Jul 27, 2016

Lord Ashcombe tilted his head. "You used. His nature. Against him." I nodded.

Jul 27, 2016

Several steps ahead, Oswyn had said. But I'd already been taught that, by a man much greater than Oswyn could ever hope to be. Secrets under secrets. Codes inside codes. Traps within traps.
~Christopher Rowe,
The Blackthorn Key


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