Book review by Aarene Storms: The Blackthorn Key

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

The year is 1665, the controversial Charles II is King of England, and Christopher Rowe is happy in his life as an apprentice apothecary. 

The work is hard and the hours are long, but Master Blackthorne is a good boss, who treats Christopher well, especially considering the boy's propensity for poor choices involving saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal.

Then, things go terribly wrong, and Christopher is accused of murder. There's a tremendous tangle of allies and enemies before the story comes to the final page... which is only the beginning of the series!

Fun read for history buffs, mystery fans, and those who love science. The characters are delightful and the setting unusual. I'm eager to read book #2 in the series. Ray Panthaki's audiobook narration is fun and engaging.

No sex, minimal cussing, some violence and betrayals, and many bad choices which often (but not always) lead to explosions.

Recommended for readers and listeners ages 10 to adult.

Aarene Storms is a librarian who reads and reviews books for all ages. She can be reached at  


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