It’s 1955, and Benjamin Burrows and Janie Scott are trying to live a safe, normal life in America. It’s not easy, when they have the power to prevent nuclear disaster, and sinister forces are circling. Soon the advice of a mysterious, unscrupulous magician propels Janie and Benjamin into danger, and toward the land of the dead.
Meanwhile, their friend Jin Lo washes up on a remote island where an American spy is stationed, and finds herself on the trail of a deadly threat in China. But she’s on the other side of the world—how can Janie and Benjamin reach her?
The triumphant finale in the trilogy that began with Maile Meloy’s bestselling, critically acclaimed The Apothecary, and continued in its captivating sequel, The Apprentices, The After-Room is full of enchantment and heart, with Ian Schoenherr’s stunning illustrations throughout.
It’s not often that I like all three books in a trilogy equally, but Maile Meloy’s Apothecary trilogy has just enough new and intriguing content in each book that they never feel stale. Each feels new and fascinating and but are all captivating and wonderfully magical. Even though my memory of the previous two books was a little rusty, apart from the major details the stories are pretty much stand-a-lones, and I had no problem keeping up.
How this one differs from the previous two is the after-room, a kind of in between place between life and death and acts as central to the plot. Through the after-room, the novel explores the topics of loss, love and death in interesting ways. The After-Room also deals with the intertwined themes of trust and truth in relation to relationships and duty.
This novel also takes a look at human nature. It examines how people deal with obstacles, fall in love, and follow a code of honour. The cast of characters that Janie and Benjamin encounter includes gangsters, magicians, soldiers, movie stars and poets.
Janie and Benjamin are slowly growing more comfortable working with the Pharmacopoeia and inventing their own potions. I loved seeing what new magic they came up with, through the power of chemistry and, as they learn, the human mind.
Once again, the plot is extremely well constructed, and every chapter is perhaps more exciting then the last. Like the other books, the narration alternates between Janie, Benjamin and Jin Lo, allowing for a lot to happen. While Jin Lo tries to track down a rogue American soldier and prevent another war, Janie and Benjamin get struggle to get themselves out of trouble across the globe.
I’m really happy with the way the trilogy ended, though sad that it couldn’t be a longer series. I’m looking forward to what Maile Meloy writes next.