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. In 1952, Janie and her family have just moved from Los Angeles to London, although Janie is not quite sure why. Ready for an adventure, she quickly befriends Benjamin Burrows, whose father is a mysterious apothecary with an even more enigmatic book, the Pharmacopoeia. Introduced to a world of magic, potions, and mysteries, Janie finds her new life in London quite exciting. Janie and Benjamin swiftly become involved in all sorts of dangers when Mr. Burrows is kidnapped and they are required to protect the book from enemies while racing to prevent a horrible disaster and unravel the mystery of his disappearance.
Readers will be easily swept up in this adventure that successfully blends history, humor, and just a hint of romance. The characters are fun, witty, and engaging. Both Benjamin and Janie are full of spunk and spirit, and Ian Schoenherr’s illustrations add depth and flair to the already interesting dialogue and prose. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.