Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she’s in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.
Acclaimed author Maile Meloy seamlessly weaves together magic and adventure in this breathtaking sequel with stunning illustrations by Ian Schoenherr.
The Apprentices is equally as good as The Apothecary, a thing that rarely happens with sequels. It was just as captivating and magical and lovely.
Though the characters are two years older – smarter and more mature – it didn’t make that much of a difference to the book. I was worried that them being older would change the book too much, but it was nice to see the kids grow up. Sure, I missed the whole concept of the kids stumbling upon a whole new world, but they are now more independent and confidant.
We get a bit of a peek into life in the mid-fifties with Janie at boarding school and Pip being an actor. As well, we get to see a bit of island life which I found extremely fascinating. The new villain and subsequently evil scheme, is twisted and intriguing. I didn’t figure out what was going on straight away and a bunch of things happened that surprised me.
The Apprentices focuses on different aspects of war, and I love how Maile tackles the topic with sensitivity and insight. From treating the wounded in the forests of Veitnam, to the cannibalistic islanders waiting for their legendary John Frum, to Jin Lo confronting the ghosts of her past, to the descriptions of atomic bomb tests, the novel provides very unique and interesting perspectives.
I love the new magic in this book and the fact that they continue to use the spells from the previous book which helped connect the two books. The fact that they were able to invent news spells and potions shows that magic is continually evolving and I’d love to see this expanded on in future books.
The storytelling was, once again, flawless. The multiple POVs come together to tell a single, complex tale that has consistent pacing. Even the most seemingly insignificant details become essential pieces of the plot later on, and the writing is simple yet emotive. The balance between plot and characters that I praised in the first books is still present and the result is a story that is effortlessly readable.
This ending was much more satisfying than the ending of The Apothecary so I hope this doesn’t mean this is the final book. I would be really really happy if there was a sequel and I will gladly read whatever Maile Meloy writes next.
If you loved The Apothecary, you’ll be sure to love the sequel as well!