Reader Reviewed The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

The Blackthorn Key

Written by Kevin Sands
Part of the The Blackthorn series Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

One of our Books of the Year 2015 - September 2015 Debut of the Month Set in the uncertain, dangerous days of 1665, this is a thrilling tale of alchemy, intrigue and murder! Christopher Rowe is an orphan, apprenticed to an apothecary. He can be reckless, even disobedient – the book opens explosively in fact with Christopher creating gunpowder – but loves and respects his master, Benedict Blackthorn. When Blackthorn is murdered, Christopher is determined to find out who committed the crime, and why. His master is not the only apothecary to have been targeted, and he’s left his clever apprentice a series of clues. Can Christopher solve them before his master’s sinister and ruthless enemies? Well-plotted, exciting and with a fascinating, original background and lively group of dramatis personae , this is a terrific read. ~ Andrea Reece

“In my fourteen years of experience in children’s fiction and even longer experience as a reader, The Blackthorn Key is without doubt one of the best historical novels I have come across” Amanda Punter, Publishing Director

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read their full reviews.

  • Alexander Butler, age 11 - 'The Blackthorn Key is really, really good.  So much so that I found that I couldn’t put it down.  One of the best books I’ve read – so looking forward to the sequel!'
  • Luke Bauer, age 13 - 'After his master's mysterious and unexpected death, Christopher Rowe is left with a piece of paper with a code on it. All he has to do is decrypt it before someone else does...'
  • Lucas, age 10 - 'Exciting and adrenalin packed!'
  • Rachel Ilsley - 'The Blackthorn Key is a brilliant book and I enjoyed reading it. Full of clues and mysteries this is an amazing book. I love the style in which Kevin Sands writes.'
  • Benjy Randall, age 11 - 'An excellent plot twisting, page turning adventure that will keep you gripped from start to finish.'
  • Eleanor Cookdale, age 10 - 'An exciting book that you and others can really empathise with. I think that Kevin Sands is a good writer and that he should write more books'
  • Abigail Smart, age 13 - 'I really enjoyed reading this. It was a bit slow to start, but soon became a fast-paced page-turner! Altogether, a great book and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel!'
  • Charlie Upchurch, age 11 - 'The Blackthorn Key is an amazing story that you just can’t put down; a real page turner. It is one of the best books I have ever read and probably ever will read. I would happily read it again.'
  • Daniel Mann, age 11 - 'This is a book of twists and turns with each chapter leaving you needing to read the next. Don't read this book if you have other things you need to be doing!'
  • Liam Pickering, age 13 - 'The Blackthorn Key was an amazing book with plenty of action and gory bits. It was a great read with an element of mystery.'
  • Emma Stephenson, age 12 - 'The Blackthorn Key is a gripping book. I really enjoyed reading about Christopher and Tom trying to work out codes, puzzles and potions whilst in great danger.'


The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

London, 1665. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe is apprenticed to master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. In Blackthorn's shop, Christopher learns the delicate secrets of transforming simple ingredients into powerful medicines, potions and weapons. His beloved master guides him with a firm, steady hand - instilling him with confidence and independence that prove increasingly vital as Christopher learns of a mysterious cult preying on the most learned men in London. The murders are growing closer and closer to home and soon Christopher is torn from the shop with only a page of cryptic clues from his master and the unambiguous warning: 'Tell no one'. Helped by his best friend, Tom, Christopher must decipher his master's clues, following a trail of deceit towards an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.


“Magic, adventure, and things that go boom – three of my favourite things. Chocked full of rollicking adventure, the plot twists and writhes like a serpent’s tail. Hang on if you can.” Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl

About the Author

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant and a teacher. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Book Info


320 pages


Kevin Sands
More books by Kevin Sands


Puffin an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd

Publication date

8th September 2015




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