The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands: MAGIC and MURDER and EXPLOSIONS

by - 7:26 AM

But can we take a second to admire this gorgeous cover??

Summary (from Goodreads)

“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”

Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.

But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.

Overall Feels

THOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. Man oh man did I love it. There's MAGIC and MURDER and EXPLOSIONS and lots of HIGH-SPEED CHASES and just gahhh.


Although there are a lot of fantastical elements in this book, it's set in 1600s England - which is great, as it's SO RARE to find historical YA from that period that ISN'T a princess running away/breaking a curse/etc. The workshop in Blackthorn's apothecary was described so beautifully - now I want to live there!


The plot was awesome! Somehow, Sands took a rather common element in YA - someone setting out to avenge the death of a loved one - and put a completely original spin on it! I did NOT see the ending coming, and I think it tied in nicely to the historical events going on around that time without sounding like a textbook. I won't spoil anything, but the history buff in me was well-pleased.


Christopher was instantly likable - a clever but quiet, extremely relatable MC. Tom is the kind of character I don't usually like, so I was pleasantly surprised to find I loved him by the end of the book. The same goes for Lord Ashcombe. And ISAAC HOLY CRAP. Isaac is one of those little pockets of awesomeness that unexpectedly pop up in the middle of a book. I LOVED HIM.

Overall Rating

5/5 stars - my second 5-star book this year. (Then again, I am rather picky.) If you love magic, potions, history, or mystery, I TEN THOUSAND PERCENT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Go read it. NOW.


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  1. 1600s England with fantasy elements sounds just like my cup of tea! This sounds amaaaaaaazing

  2. This sounds like an amazing book! Even though I love historical fiction, I usually don't read a lot of ones set in the 1600s. I'm definitely going to have to read this one now ♥
    Amy xx

    Little Moon Dragon

    1. It totally is! You really should, it's super awesome.

      - Ellie

  3. ARE YOU KIDDING ME !!! I literally have the book IN MY HAND RIGHT NOW. I just finished it and I logged onto blogger ( which I haven't done in ages ) AND THIS SHOWS UP ! Lol , this book is amazing ! You have an awesome taste in literature :)

    1. YESSS ISN'T IT GOOD?? Same to you :)

      - Ellie

  4. Ooh OOH OOOHH I just got this from the library. :D
    *scurries off to go read it*
    ~ Suzy


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