Article Title

The Blackthorn Key


Tessa McMillan


Excellent, Young Adult, Kevin Sands, Apprentices, Supernatural, Pharmacists, Friendship, Secret Societies, London, 17th Century, History

Document Type

Book Review


Several apothecaries have been murdered and apprentice Christopher Rowe fears for the life of his kindly master, Benedict Blackthorn. After a randomly abusive episode with Master Blackthorn, Christopher returns home to find Blackthorn murdered and their shop ravaged. In the midst of the mess, Christopher finds an encrypted note left by Blackthorn. Christopher takes the message and tries to solve its contents with the help of his best friend, Tom. However, the authorities pass the blame of Blackthorn’s death onto Christopher. Now on the run, Christopher unearths Blackthorn’s involvement in a secret alchemist society where they pursue the Prima Materia, or First Matter, that God used in creating the universe. Christopher realizes that all the murdered apothecaries were alchemists and they were killed for their knowledge on the Prima Materia called Archangel Fire. From the clues in Blackthorn’s background and the evidence collected from Christopher’s sleuthing, he believes the man behind the murders is a high ranking official in the Apothecaries’ Guild Council, someone Christopher thought he could trust.