The Apothecary by Maile MeloyThe Apothecary by Maile Meloy

The Apothecary

byMaile MeloyIllustratorIan Schoenherr

Paperback | February 12, 2013

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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. Contains a teaser chapter of the sequel, The Apprentices.
Maile Meloy is the award-winning author of The Apothecary and The Apprentices as well as the adult short story collections Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It and Half in Love, and the novels Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter. You can visit Maile at
Title:The ApothecaryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.05 × 0.98 inPublished:February 12, 2013Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142422061

ISBN - 13:9780142422069

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely story! The Apothecary is a lovely and enchanting story. Set in London in 1952, the blend of history, magic and science makes for a fun and exciting story. As well as excellent characters and a bit of romance, this book will please both tweens and teens. Fantastic!
Date published: 2017-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read I read this one a number of times in my early teen years but I would enjoy it even now. Fantastic blend of history, mystery, and fantasy.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful The book immenses you immdiately in the plot and the mysteries as you try to figure out the fate of the characters. The illustrations are really cute, and what I found the most satisified is that when I was reading it at the age of 15-16 (around that age), I was drawn into the book. Although it is targeted towards a younger audience, it really is interesting for people beyond that age.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read for all ages It's been a long cold winter here in Canada and most people I know are starting to go a bit stir crazy. I imagine that the kids are feeling the same. If it's too cold to send them out, then I recommend sitting them down with a copy of Maile Meloy's The Apothecary. They will quickly become lost in the world of Janie and Benjamin and their magical potions. It's 1952 and Janie and her parents have quietly moved to England to escape the scrutiny of those suspecting them of being communist sympathisers or some other foolishness of McCarthy and his cronies. She wants nothing to do with moving, with England, with a damp house and a uniform for a new school. Nothing about the move appeals to her until she meets fellow student Benjamin Burrows. He is the son of the local apothecary and an aspiring spy. Now throw in a suspected Russian spy, a mysterious book of potions and some seedy characters and your kids will forget about being stuck inside. Once your kids have finished this book, you'll want to read it yourself. I found that the child characters were well developed and believable. The adult characters in the book seemed to fit two categories, those that were there because they had to (Janie had to have parents so that she could move to England) and those who were important to the story line and thus had more developed characters. All in all, it was the children who carried the plot and made this story come alive for me. It would be a suitable book to read aloud to your younger children who still enjoy being read to. Scattered throughout are wonderful illustrations by Ian Schoenherr. As well as adding to the story, they will help young readers make that transition from fully illustrated books to the more traditional chapter book. It was interesting to note that several books about England at war time rely on magic to help turn the course war and politics to Englands' advantage. The first that came to mind was the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which was based on the books The Magic Bed Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks by author Mary Norton. Great movie, I highly recommend watching that with your family. The next that came to mind was Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark. At the time it was published it was billed as the Harry Potter book for adults. I felt that I failed on that aspect and that it would have been readable as a short story instead of the long drawn out tomb that it was. The Apprentices is the sequel to this novel.
Date published: 2014-01-31

Read from the Book

Chapter 2 The Apothecary It’s safe to say I was not graceful about the move to London. I was no witty, patient, adaptable Jane Austen. And if I was anything like Katharine Hepburn, it was in the scenes where she’s being a giant pest. I cried in the taxi all the way to the airport, past the churning oil rigs on La Cienega. I cried on the first airplane I’d ever been on, which should have been exciting, and was exciting—all those tiny buildings below—but I wasn’t going to give my parents the satisfaction of knowing that I was enjoying it. At Heathrow Airport in London, there was a framed picture of the brand-new Queen Elizabeth II on the wall. “She’s not that much older than you are,” my mother said.“And she’s been through a war, and her father’s dead, andnow she has to be queen, poor thing.”“See?” my father said. “Your life could be worse.” I looked at the picture of the young queen. We had escaped ahead of the U.S. marshals, locking up the house and packing only the things we could carry. My parents were going to be writing for the BBC under fake names—fake names, when my mother wouldn’t even put yellow food coloring in margarine! We were living like criminals or spies. Although I was angry, standing there looking at the plucky young queen’s portrait, I allowed myself to think that my mother was right, and it might be an adventure. But February in London crushed those hopes. We took a taxi through streets that were still bomb-scarred and desolate, seven years after the war’s end, to a tiny third-floor flat on St. George’s Street in Primrose Hill. Across the street was a haberdasher—my father said he was like a tailor—standing outside his shop with his hands behind his back and a look on his face as if no one would ever come in. Our new landlady, Mrs. Parrish, took off her apron and patted a wild cloud of hair to show us around. She said the gas water heater over the kitchen sink was broken, and we would have to heat pots of water on the stove. The kitchen was along one side of the living room, no bigger than a closet, and could be closed away just like a closet. The rooms were freezing and the walls seemed damp. The brown wallpaper was water-stained near the ceiling. We must have looked dismayed, because the distracted Mrs. Parrish suddenly focused on us. She was not going to let some spoiled Americans fail to appreciate their good fortune.“You’re lucky to get the place, you know,” she said. “Of course,” my mother said quickly. “We’re very grateful.” “People are queuing up for a flat like this, with its ownlavatory, and separate bedrooms, and a working telephone line. But the BBC asked to hold it, specially.” It was clear that we did not deserve such a bounty, when her countrymen, who had lost so much, were still going without private bathrooms.“We’re very grateful,” my mother repeated.“Do you have your ration cards for the marketing?”“Not yet,” my mother said.“You’ll need those,” the landlady said. “And you’ll find thatthe butcher sells out first thing in the morning, ration cards or no.” She lowered her voice. “I can sell you some eggs, if you like. They’re hard to get, but I know someone with hens.” “That would be very nice.” Mrs. Parrish showed us where to put penny coins into the gas heater in the wall, to make it work. We didn’t have any English pennies, but said we would get some.“Mark you,” she said, brushing dust from the heater off her hands, “it doesn’t do much. Apart from eat up pennies. You’ll want your hot water bottles for the beds.” “We don’t have hot water bottles,” my mother said.“Try the apothecary,” the landlady said. “Around the corner, on Regent’s Park. He’ll have pennies, too.” And she left us alone. My mother started investigating the closet kitchen, and my father and I put on every warm thing we had, which wasn’t much, to go find the apothecary, which my father said was like a pharmacy. The sky over St. George’s Street was gray, and the buildings were gray, and people wore gray. It sounds like a cliché, but it was true. Going from Los Angeles to London in 1952 was like leaving a Technicolor movie and walking into a black-and-white one. Around the corner on Regent’s Park Road, just as the landlady said, we came to a storefront with two bay windows full of glass bottles. A painted sign over one window said APOTHECARY, and one over the other window said ESTABLISHED 1871. My father pushed the paned glass door open and held it for me. The shop had a strange smell, musty and herbal and metallic all at once. Behind the counter was a wall of jars. A balding man on a wheeled ladder, halfway up the wall, pulled a jar down. He seemed not to have noticed us, but then he spoke. “I’ll just be a moment,” he said.He carefully climbed down the ladder with the jar in one hand, set it on the counter, and looked up at us, ready for our needs. He had wire-rimmed glasses and the air of someone who didn’t rush things, who paid close attention to each particular task before moving on to the next. “We’re looking for three hot water bottles,” my father toldhim. “Of course.” “And how about some chocolate bars?” The apothecary shook his head. “We have them sometimes. Not often, since the war.” “Since the war?” my father said, and I could see him calculating: twelve years without a steady supply of chocolate. He looked a little faint. I wondered if he could get a prescription for chocolate from a doctor. Then I could have some, too. “Come back again,” the apothecary said, seeing his dismay. “We may have some soon.”“Okay,” my father said. “We’d better get some aspirin, too.” I could tell he was embarrassed by his undisguised need for candy, and he always made jokes when he was embarrassed. I could feel one coming. “And how about something for my daughter, to cure homesickness?”“Dad,” I said. The apothecary looked at me. “You’re American?” I nodded.“And you’ve moved here to a cold flat with cold bedrooms that need hot water bottles?”I nodded again, and the apothecary guided the ladder along the back wall on its metal wheels.“I was joking,” my father said. “But you are homesick?” the apothecary asked, over his shoulder.“Well—yes,” I said. He climbed the ladder and chose two jars, tucking one beneath his arm to climb down. At the counter, he unscrewed the lids and measured two different powders, one yellow and one brown, into a small glass jar. “The brown is aspen, the yellow is honeysuckle,” he said. To my father, he said, “Neither will hurt her.” To me, he said, “Put about a dram of each—do you know how much a dram is? About a teaspoon of each in a glass of water. It won’t take effect right away, but it might make you feel better. And it might not. People have different constitutions.”“We really don’t—” my father said. “It’s free of charge,” the apothecary said. “It’s for the young lady.” Then he rang up the hot water bottles and the bottle of aspirin.“Thank you,” I said.“You’ll want some pennies, too, for the wall heater,” he said, handing me our change in a fistful of big brown coins that clinked, rather than jingled, into my hand.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"[The blend of history, culture, and the anxiety of the time with magical 'science' will keep readers just as spellbound as the characters." — Kirkus reviews* "[Readers] will be quickly swept up in this thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance." — Publishers Weekly, starred review"Satisfies on all levels." — The New York Times"Pitch-perfect." — The Los Angeles Times"Meloy offers a strong narrator in Janie and an intriguing mix of history and mystery." — Booklist