Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Maile Meloy's new novel for middle readers, 'The Apothecary'

Even if you are not attracted to the fantasy genre, you may be happily surprised  by Maile Meloy's latest book. In a review of The Apothecary for the New York Times, (skeptic) Krystyna Poray Goddu wrote: "...the book, with its intricately constructed plot, well-paced suspense, credibly rendered fantastical elements, thoughtfully drawn characters and authentically detailed settings, satisfies on all levels. Even for a reader predisposed against the genre."

The story begins in Los Angeles, in 1952, when 14-year-old Janie Scott moves with her parents to London, England. There, she meets a mysterious apothecary and becomes fascinated by his son, Benjamin Burrows -- a 14-year-old boy who isn't afraid to stand up to authority and who dreams of becoming a spy.

Just before Benjamin's father is kidnapped, he gives Janie and Benjamin an ancient book, The Pharmacopoeia, insisting that they must keep it safe -- no matter what. It turns out that Russian spies want the book and will do anything to get it. Using the recipes for transformative elixirs they find in the book's pages, Janie and Benjamin stay one step ahead of the bad guys as they embark on a dangerous mission to save the apothecary and prevent impending nuclear disaster.

During this week's program, Maile Meloy will talk about where she got the idea for The Apothecary, her first novel for middle readers (she's the author of two adult novels and two story collections). She'll also read from the book and talk a little about her writing process.

You can hear the program on the radio or online:

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