The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

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It's 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows - a fascinating boy who's not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary's sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies - Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

Together with Ian Schoenherr's breathtaking illustrations, this is a truly stunning package from cover to cover.

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About Maile Meloy

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Maile Meloy ( is the award-winning author of several short story collections for adults: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It and Half in Love, as well as the novels for adults: Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter. The Apothecary was her first middle-grade novel. 
Published October 4, 2011 by Puffin Books. 368 pages
Genres: Travel, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Apothecary

Kirkus Reviews

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As the teens, joined by pickpocket Pip (seemingly plucked out of Great Expectations), search for the apothecary (truly an alchemist), they must also outrun their dreamy Latin teacher (who could be a double agent), rescue a kidnapped Chinese chemist and work with other scientists from around the w...

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The New York Times

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The opening chapters are reassuringly Meloy: 14-year-old Janie Scott describes her life in 1950s Hollywood with her parents, a radio-television writing team, “the smartest, funniest parents I knew.” Childhood in postwar California is blissful — eating oranges off sweet-smelling trees in the front...

Oct 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

Publishers Weekly

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Some readers may need to brush up on cold war history to fully appreciate the stakes, but even those with a vague understanding of the times will be quickly swept up in this thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance.

Sep 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

The Wall Street Journal

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Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews ""The Apothecary" by Maile Meloy, "Okay For Now"
by Gary D. Schmidt and "Breadcrumbs" by Anne Ursu.

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New York Journal of Books

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“The magic of this book is dazzling: an elixir for invisiblity, champagne bubbles for forgetting, and the surprising twist at the end.”When Janie comes home from Hollywood High she eats an orange off the tree in her yard.

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

The Bookbag

Summary: Janie Scott suddenly finds herself thrown into a world of secrets and spies and developing nuclear capability....

Nov 06 2012 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Within mere paragraphs, Maile Meloy -- novelist, short story writer, and sister of Decemberists frontman and freshly minted young adult novelist Colin Meloy -- demonstrates the snap, color, and wit that suffuse every page of The Apothecary, her first novel for young adults.

Nov 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

Common Sense Media

But along the way the two main characters, Janie and Benjamin, learn a new appreciation for their parents' good (and in the case of Benjamin's father, heroic) qualities and perform many courageous feats of their own, sometimes at the risk of their own lives.

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

Historical Novel Society

Meloy’s first book for young readers, and hopefully not her last, The Apothecary is a fantastic adventure with a built-in lesson about Cold War history.

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Chamber Four

For example, at the end of the book (it’s also mentioned on the very first page), Benjamin slips Janie an alchemical roofie that makes her forget the previous three weeks, which is how long she’s been in London.

Dec 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

Red Room

I seem to be choosing books with a Cold War themes fairly regularly -- David Almond's The Fire-Eaters, which centers around the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cecil Castelucci's Rose Sees Red, which is set in the early 80s with the Cold War tension as a back drop to a friendship that develops between ...

Feb 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

The Booksellers New Zealand blog

I was hooked on The Apothecary from the first page.

Jan 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The Apothecary

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