Rummanah Aasi
Description: The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy. And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before.

Review: I really enjoyed Kevin Sand's debut novel, The Blackthorn Key, which mixes historical fiction and mystery into a fun, action-packed story. Mark of the Plague is the second book in the series which technically could be read independently, but why would you?
  In this equally delightful sequel Sand mixes hysteria, history, science, and humor. It is 1665, and the plague has arrived in London, bringing with it prophets of doom and unscrupulous swindlers hoping to prey upon the fears of the desperate citizens. Christopher, former apprentice to the late apothecary Benedict Blackthorn, finds himself at the center of a conspiracy that will end in either a cure for the Black Death or the destruction of society. Melchior, a charismatic prophet, draws followers by predicting where the plague will strike next. The arrival of an unknown apothecary who claims to have the cure increases the frenzy. It is up to Christopher and Tom, the baker’s son and Christopher's best friend, to solve the mystery swirling around both men.
  Sands does not offer a sanitized version of history to his young readers. London here is gritty, dirty, mesmerizing, and often terrifying in the treatment of lower classes. Desperate poverty, magical thinking, and a complete disregard for life are everyday realities for those living during the Great Plague of London. Along with mysteries and action that will hold the reader's attention throughout, I love the genuine friendship between Christopher and Tom and their earnest desire to help others. This book also provides us an addition to the duo in the fearless, street-savy and smart Sally who provides the perfect balance for the loyal friends. The villains of this story are really clever and villainous and not cartoon-y by any means. If you enjoy history, puzzles, action, and a little fantasy I would highly suggest picking up the Blackthorn Key series.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: The Assassin's Curse by Kevin Sands (The Blackthorn Key #3), York series by Laura Ruby, The Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen
1 Response
  1. This book seems a little too timely given the Corona virus' current impact, but it also sounds like one that students will really get into.

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