A mysterious apothecary.
A magic book.
A missing scientist.
An impossible plan.
It’s 1952 and the Scott family has moved unexpectedly from Los Angeles to London. Janie feels uncomfortable in her strange new school, until the local apothecary promises her a remedy for homesickness. But the real cure is meeting the apothecary’s son Benjamin, a curiously defiant boy who dreams of becoming a spy.
Benjamin’s father is no ordinary apothecary, and when he’s kidnapped, Benjamin and Janie find themselves entrusted with his sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia. And it seems that Russian spies are intent on getting their hands on it.
What secrets does the book contain? Who is the Chinese chemist Jin Lo? And can they trust a skinny pickpocket called Pip to help them?
Discovering transformative elixirs they never imagined could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous quest to save the apothecary and prevent an impending nuclear disaster.
The Apothecary sparkles with life and possibility. This is a story that will delight kids and return not-so-young readers to the magic of childhood.
Note from Maile:
As a kid, I was a reader above all else, and was happiest sprawled sideways across an armchair with a book. I read and re-read D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths until the words and the illustrations were burned in my brain. I was home sick when I read Treasure Island, and I can still feel the chill and horror of the Black Spot. A Wrinkle in Time became battered and waterlogged when I took it down a river, reading it in the raft, ignoring the scenery. I loved the possibilities in the books, the idea that anything could happen. You could travel through time as easily as an ant stepping from one end of a piece of thread to the other, if the ends were simply brought together. You could walk through a wardrobe into another world.
That’s one of the reasons writing The Apothecary has been such a joy. I got to enter, again, into that pre-adult world in which nothing is ruled out. If you allow for the possibilities, and don’t let preconceptions get in the way of your belief and desire, amazing things can happen. It’s a book about a boy confronting his destiny, and about a girl finding an extraordinary new life and about an apothecary who wants to free the world from the looming threat of nuclear disaster. He isn’t an ordinary apothecary, and, through him, Janie and Benjamin discover that things like invisibility and flight are entirely possible.
Nothing could make me happier than introducing you to Janie and Benjamin, and to Ian Schoenherr’s beautiful illustrations. I hope spending time with them gives you as much pleasure as it’s given me.
‘A rollicking read…it’s a marvellous book.’
‘In The Apothecary, Maile Meloy keeps raising the stakes for her main characters until it seems that victory is impossible….But it’s hard to keep these characters down, and their ingenuity and determination bring them out of the pages and make them real for the reader. This book is full of magic and sparkle, spies, evil and global intrigue…The Apothecary is an exciting, well-researched adventure that readers will find hard to put down, no matter what genre they favour.’
‘Fighting science with magic, it is as if James Bond meets Harry Potter in this fast- paced thriller/fantasy where all is not what it seems…A fascinating glimpse into the history of the Cold War.’
‘A fantasy adventure firmly rooted in the real world, it’s set in 1950s Cold War London, and will hugely appeal to readers aged 12 and up.‘
‘This cleverly plotted “le Carre for kids” adventure is driven by a memorable, quick-witted protagonist.’