Sands, Kevin Mark of the Plague (Blackthorn Key #2), 529 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2016. $18. Language: G (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some danger and fighting).
Christopher is learning to live without his beloved master, but since the plague came to London, life has been very hard. The Masters at the Apothecary Guild have refused to find him a new teacher, so he is stuck eking out a life with the help of his best friend Tom. When Master Galen comes to town proclaiming he has a cure for the plague, he is first dismissed as another quack, but this miracle seems to actually do the job. Christopher is not happy at all when his shop is commandeered to reproduce the cure and even more put out when Master Galen chooses Tom as his aide and kicks Christopher out of his own home. Christopher is suspicious, but he will have to dig deep in order to find evidence of a plot and he and his friends may be on their own to protect the entire city of London.
Sands kicks right into the boys creating explosions and fire inside the apothecary, just as the beginning of the first book. The drama is a little more removed at first, as the plague seems to be happening to everyone else in London, but soon swings around to involve Tom and his friends directly. I hope you have students who like books set historically, because I enjoy them very much.
EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher