The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Published by Simon & Schuster
Set in London 1665 the book opens with orphan apprentice apothecary Christopher Rose executing the most stupidest idea in the universe with his loyal mate Tom, the baker’s son. Clever enough to decipher out the code to make gunpowder, the resulting explosion bring tears to a stuffed bears eyes and to Tom’s. His Master is dismayed at the mess and secretly pleased with his nouse.
But this isn’t the time for mucking about for London apothecaries are being murdered and sadly Tom’s Master Benedict dies. It turns Tom’s world upside down. To survive he is thrust into a world of code cracking, puzzle-solving, cults, alchemists, mutilated bodies and traps within traps.
The Blackthorn Key races along with a cracking pace while delving into the history of England. The relationship between Christopher and Tom keeps the grimness of post plague Restoration England at bay. Here we find true friendship and their feisty repartee is standard young lad lowbrow fun.
My twelve-year-old son read this book with me and I think he struggled a little with the wordiness. For me the history and plot were seamless. He certainly enjoyed the gruesomeness, the action and the banter between the two lads.
Toward the end the story became more religious than historic in its revelations as the pair happened upon ‘the final secret.’
I think it would appeal to boys aged 13-15 as it cracks along with all the mystery and ambience of The Da Vinci Code with the extra quality of a moderated Blackadder type banter.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Kevin Sands
Title: The Blackthorn Key
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: January 2016