Book Review of The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Book Review of The Apothecary by Maile Meloy The Apothecary is an exciting story set during the Cold War. A 14-year-old girl and her parents move to London. She meets a boy, son of the apothecary, that wants to be a spy. Soon after they meet, the apothecary is missing and the children set off on an adventure full of magic and espionage – with a touch of adolescent romance. It is the first book in a series, the second book, The Apprentices, came out this year and I plan to review it soon.

Unrelated, but interesting fact: Maile Meloy’s brother is Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, and author of the Wildwood Chronicles (You can read my reviews of the first and second books here and here). They seem to have good writing in their family tree. :)

But back to The Apothecary: Parents should be advised that there is magic (alchemy, so it’s more like science potions and not spells), romance/adolescent sexual tension, a murder, and scary scenes (probably the scariest is when the main character is left outside while a hydrogen bomb goes off). Parents in this story are portrayed as caring and loving (although not always the best judge of what should be done). I feel like Amazon’s age range of 9-12 is a little young for this book. It seemed more like a YA book than middle school, and because it is from a 14 year-old girl’s perspective, it seemed a little more like a girl book (probably because of the romance, even though there is plenty of action and adventure). My kids may be ready for this book around 12 or older, but I’m not sure Liam would enjoy it.

The message of this book is that there may be more to people than what meets the eye.

My Mom-Meter gives The Apothecary an overall safety rating of 2 (Moderately Safe) for ages 12 and up.

Click here to skip to a Plot summary

Click here to skip straight to Potential Discussion Points

Category ratings (click on the category to see specifics):

Alcohol/DrugsSafe - no actual four-letter words

BullyingSafe - no actual four-letter words

Disrespectful AttitudesSafe - no actual four-letter words

GamblingSafe - no actual four-letter words

Gross BehaviorSafe - no actual four-letter words

LanguageSafe - no actual four-letter words



Scary ThemesCaution


Plot summary of The Apothecary: ***Contains Spoilers***

Sorry this is long – it’s a complicated plot!

It’s seven years after Word War II ends, Janie is a 14-year-old girl growing up in Hollywood with funny, loving parents who are television writers. She loves her life, but it all changes when two men follow her home. Janie learns that they are U.S. Marshalls and that her parents has been blacklisted as Communists. They leave the U.S. under assumed names and move to London. Janie’s parents get a job with the BBC, and they experience all the inconveniences of post-war rationing. Their apartment is cold, ad they have to put pennies in the heater to run it. Chocolate is hard to get, butter is nowhere to be found, and eggs can be obtained on the black market – far different from the U.S. post-war. Janie and her father meet the Apothecary, a British pharmacist, and he gives Janie something for her homesickness. He seems reassuringly safe. Janie attends a British school, and feels like an outcast. She meets a boy, Benjamin, who refuses to cooperate in an air raid drill. He states, correctly, that if a bomb hit, being under the tables would not help them at all. Janie is impressed with Benjamin and develops a bit of a crush on him. Benjamin is curious about Janie because her parents are suspected of being Communist spies, and Benjamin wants to be a spy. Janie learns that Benjamin is the Apothecary’s son, and that the Apothecary wants Benjamin to study to be an apothecary when he grows up. Benjamin’s mother was killed by a bomb when Benjamin was a baby. In a practice spying mission, Janie and Benjamin find a message and learn that the Soviets are after Benjamin’s father and his book, the Pharmacopoeia (which is full of alchemy potions, not for changing things into gold but for changing things into other things).

After trying to figure out the Pharmacopoeia, the children turn to a gardener friend of the Apothecary, and they learn that the Apothecary is an alchemist from a long line of alchemists. They decide to use a potion from the Pharmacopoeia to see if the gardener is telling the truth. They make a truth serum, test it on themselves (which leads to Janie telling Benjamin she “fancies” him, and Benjamin admits that he has a crush on a beautiful snobby girl at school) and then pretend to be friends with Sergei, a Russian boy from school, in order to expose his Soviet father, Leonid Shiskin, to the truth serum and find out what he knows about where the Apothecary is. Mr. Shiskin knows, but does not give much away before taking a pill that makes him silent because the apartment is bugged and the Soviets have been listening. Because of what was said at the Shiskins’ apartment, the gardener is killed – stabbed with the triangle from a sundial. Janie and Benjamin arrive in time to hear his last words, which lead them to a note and potion hidden in the garden. Janie’s parents are frantic with worry because she had been gone a long time. Janie and Benjamin end up lying to Janie’s parents because the Apothecary did not want them to go to the police. Benjamin sneaks into Janie’s room after her parents tell him to go home because he might get caught by the men who are after his father. Janie’s parents have to leave the city to work in the country for a few days, and they leave Janie with the (alcoholic) landlady.

The next day at school, Janie decides to confide in a handsome teacher, Mr. Danby, who knows Latin and might be able to read the potions for them. Before she can bring him the book, the police show up to arrest Janie and Benjamin. Benjamin manages to sneak the Pharmacopoeia to Sergei without the police noticing. The children are then taken to a dreary Dickens-like reform school and interrogated. Mr. Danby shows up, claiming to work for the Foreign Office, and gets them out of the school. Just before they get into the car, the children recognize Mr. Danby’s driver as the man who had come after the Apothecary and suddenly, they realize that this is a trap. They run back to the school, rescue a pickpocket named Pip who had been in a cell with Benjamin, and in a heart-pounding chase scene they are chased up to the roof of the reform school. Janie remembers the potion (avian elixir) the gardener had sent in the nick of time, and the three children drink it and turn into birds that fly away.

The children find a bunker where they think the Apothecary is being held, and after a quick bit of alchemy in the school laboratory, they make an invisible potion that only works on bare skin. All three children take turns bathing in the invisible potion and then run to the bunker to free the Apothecary, but he isn’t there. Instead, the children find Jin Lo, a beautiful woman who is a Chinese chemist that worked with the Apothecary. The children help her escape, and they take her to the Apothecary’s shop. Jin Lo uses a potion to help Janie and Benjamin remember more about the night the Apothecary disappeared, and they realize that he was not captured. He had turned himself into a pile of salt that Jo Lin reconstituted, and the Apothecary reappears. Janie and Benjamin then learn that the Apothecary, with the help of Jo Lin’s chemistry and a Hungarian physicist named Count Vili, has been working on a way to counteract an atomic bomb. They were going to test it in Norway, but Jo Lin had been captured.

The Apothecary decides to go through with his plan, but he wants Benjamin to stay safe. Janie, Pip, and Benjamin decide that they will use the invisible potion again and sneak aboard the ship. Janie slips while bathing, and Pip is not able be invisible. He ends up distracting the police while Janie and Benjamin sneak onto the boat. Before they sneak onto the boat, Janie and Benjamin overhear Mr. Shiskin talking to Mr. Danby and discover that Mr. Shiskin’s wife and daughter are being held hostage by the Soviets. Mr. Shiskin is to radio the Soviets when the boat gets near Russian waters, so that they can destroy the boat. Janie and Benjamin stow away, and are discovered by Jo Lin. After explaining the situation, they decide to have Janie pretend to have sympathy for Mr. Shiskin. She tells him that they had discovered his plot and he was going to be executed shortly. He begs to be allowed to radio the Soviets so that they know he had been caught and hopefully they will not harm his family. She agrees, but instead of radioing, Mr. Shiskin grabs Janie and holds a gun to her head in order to escape. The Count uses his time slowing skill to attack Mr. Shiskin and rescue Janie. They do not kill Mr. Shiskin, but he does radio the Soviets (so that his family will be spared) and then they tie him up and turn him into a pile of salt (to be easily transported home).

The Apothecary, Jin Lo, the Count, Janie, and Benjamin then drink the avian elixir and fly to the place where the Soviets are planning to test a bomb. Janie is the smallest bird, so she sneaks into the building where the bomb is housed and learns that it is a hydrogen bomb (which makes her wonder if the Apothecary’s idea will work differently than on an atomic bomb). Before she can fly back and report, Mr. Danby sees her and captures Janie. She is taken in a helicopter to a destroyer, turns back into a human, and is left on the deck of the destroyer when the hydrogen bomb goes off. It is beautiful to see, and the Apothecary’s plan worked to absorb the radiation.

The Apothecary and crew had gone back to the boat, but Benjamin (who had kissed Janie and basically told her he was in love with her) drinks more of the avian elixir to fly back to find Janie. It is too far to fly, and he turns back into a human mid-air and falls into the sea. The Soviets use a helicopter to rescue him in order to question him, but a dark magic cloud (results of alchemy upsetting the balance of things) swallows up the helicopter and Janie and Benjamin fall into the ocean. Janie swims and swims to rescue Benjamin, and they are rescued by a Norwegian and eventually returned to the boat the Apothecary and crew are on.

Janie and Benjamin recover and everyone comes back to London where Janie’s parents are sick with worry. Janie tells the Apothecary that she would like to tell her parents everything that happened, and they agree to meet the next day to tell them everything. The next day, the Apothecary gives out champagne to celebrate, but it is actually a potion that makes everyone forget the last three weeks, and then he and Benjamin leave on a train. Benjamin takes Janie’s diary, so that she would not remember anything, but he sends it back to her a year later and she begins to remember again.

Potential Discussion Points for Parents in The Apothecary:

  • This book describes how vastly different American and Great Britain were after WWII. Seven years after the war, London still had rationing (the book mentions that you couldn’t buy chocolate or butter – and they buy eggs on the black market). You might want to talk to your child about tat time in history. If you have relatives that were alive during that time, this might be a good way to introduce your kids to a conversation with them about that time in history.
  • Janie’s parents are suspected Communists and they are forced to flee to England. You might want to talk to your kids about Communism, McCarthyism, and how careful we should be in accusing others.
  • Janie has to go to a new school in a different country in the middle of the school year. They wear uniforms, but hers had not arrived. “I might as well have carried a giant sign saying I DON’T BELONG.” Mr. Danby (although later found to be a villain) has good advice for her: “Confide tibi, Miss Scott. Far better to be who you are.” Have you ever felt like Janie? What made you feel better? Do you agree with Mr. Danby’s advice?
  • Janie says “To be a kid is to be invisible and to listen, and to interpret things that aren’t necessarily meant for you to hear – because how else do you find out about the world?” Do you ever feel invisible because you’re young?
  • The apothecary and two others are working on a way to neutralize an atomic bomb. The book refers to what happens to people as a result of an atomic bomb and describes the air raid drills with children under desks. Benjamin’s mother was killed by a bomb, and the Apothecary wants to end war. You might want to talk to your child about the atomic/hydrogen bombs – the history and even the ethics behind using them.
  • Mrs. Parrish, the landlady drunk on gin, says “In my day, a girl with any looks on her never bothered with Latin. Boys didn’t like a girl was too smart.” You might want to talk about the different way that women are viewed now than they were throughout history.
  • Mr. Shiskin chooses to betray his friend in order to save his wife and daughter. What would you do in Mr. Shiskin’s situation?
  • Count Vili jokes “Even the darkest forces are never all bad.” What do you think about that statement? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • The Apothecary was not going to rescue Janie. Benjamin disobeyed his father and became a bird to rescue her. Why wouldn’t the Apothecary rescue Janie? Why did Benjamin? How would you have resolved that dilemma?
  • The Apothecary and Benjamin drug Janie, her parents, Pip, and the police to make them forget the last three weeks. They did it so that they could stop more bombs from going off. Do you think they were right to do that? What would you think if someone decided to erase the last three weeks of your memory? Would that ever be a good idea? Why do you think Benjamin sent the diary back to Janie?


  • Janie’s parents have friends over in Hollywood and they drink wine.
  • The Apothecary gives Janie a prescription of aspen and honeysuckle for homesickness.
  • There are several potions, or “elixirs” in the book. The children learn that the leaves of one plant, if gathered at the right time of day, boiled and prepared like tea, will make anyone who smells the vapor have to answer questions truthfully. another elixir “avian elixir,” turns you into a bird for a time.
  • The landlady smells like gin at 8 in the morning. It is implied that she stays drunk.
  • Pip says that all the men that built the bunker told what it was when they had a “few pints in ’em.” “They swear all the barmaids to secrecy, like.”
  • Pip mentions that he learned chess from his uncle in a pub.
  • When he was young, Count Vili spent all his time “drinking and floating in punts down the river.”
  • Mr. Danby smokes cigarettes. He mentions that when he was a POW, he would get packages of food and cigarettes from the Red Cross.
  • Vodka is mentioned.
  • The Apothecary gives champagne to everyone, but it has a secret potion to cause them to forget the last three weeks.


  • A Russian boy in Janie’s class, Sergei, doesn’t have any friends. “I imagined a Russian kid would have an even worse time at school than an American.” He sits alone at lunchtime. The beautiful and rich girl at school calls him a “Bolshevik.”
  •  Benjamin says that he would have been bullied “mullered” or “pounded on” at a different school.

Disrespectful Attitudes:

  •  Janie doesn’t want to leave sunny California and all of her friends. “I glared at my father in defiance… ‘Look kiddo,’ he said, ‘If we can’t laugh together, we’re not going to make it through this thing.’…’Don’t call me kiddo,’ I said.”
  • Benjamin refuses to participate in the bomb drills because hiding under tables won’t protect them. He has a convincing speech, ignoring the lunch lady’s warnings of demerits.
  • Benjamin argues with his father about studying to be an apothecary. He doesn’t think his father’s work is important.
  • Pip calls police “fat old coppers.”


  • When playing chess, Benjamin jokes they should “play for money.”
  • Pip plays chess and bets a “half a crown” on a game and wins.
  • Pip says while he is invisible that he wishes they could go to casinos and horse races (presumably to pick pockets).
  • Pip asks if he can have some memory potion so he can remember things like “Racing tips! Poker tells!”
  • Pip bets “five bob” that he can get Sarah to give them a gold necklace.
  • Janie tells Pip she doesn’t play chess. He says “Then we’ll play for money.”

Gross Behavior: None


  • “Fool” is used a few times.
  • Benjamin calls bomb drills “idiotic.”
  • Benjamin calls a patient a “nutter.” and refuses to do “poxy things.”
  • “Bloody” is used several times.
  • “Stupid” is said several times.
  • “Daft,” as in crazy, is used several times.
  • Pip lets loose a “shocking string of words” when he steps outside naked (and invisible).
  • Pip calls a longshoremen who didn’t want the kids on the docks “something shocking.”


  • The Apothecary is an alchemist, so there are “scientific” potions throughout the book. A certain plant, if you boil the leaves like tea, the vapor makes you answer questions truthfully.
  • There is a book of medicine from alchemists, called the “Pharmacopoeia,” full of recipes for potions and elixirs to turn you into a bird for a while or to make you invisible for a time.
  • When trying the “Smell of Truth” on the Shiskins, Benjamin acts “with an air of a magician about to do a trick.”
  • Janie and Benjamin have to tell the truth when they smell the “Smell of Truth” potion. They use it on the Shiskins to learn what Mr. Shiskin knows.
  • Benjamin, Pip, and Janie turn into birds after they drink the avian elixir.
  • The children use a potion from the Pharmacopoeia, melting down gold among other things, to make an invisible potion you have to bathe in naked in order to be invisible for a while.
  • Jin Lo has some oil that she puts on Janie and Benjamin to help them remember when the Apothecary disappeared. Some of the oil gets on Jin Lo and she remembers painful things about the war.
  • The Apothecary had turned himself into a pile of salt to avoid being caught by the Soviets. Jin Lo turns him back to human. The scene reminds Janie of the witches in Macbeth. “Was it ‘eye of newt and tongue of frog’? Something like that.”
  • Mr. Shiskin says “the ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who betray their friends.”
  • Jin Lo mixes a paint mixture that paints the boat itself.
  • There are side effects to alchemy. When the Apothecary makes the jaival tree blossom, it released a dark cloud, called “the Dark Force.” “‘Whenever we tamper with natural laws, there are consequences,’ the count said. ‘The larger the disruption, the larger the consequence… I have never seen the Dark Force as a cloud before… My tutor, Konstantin, compared it to the Roman idea of the ‘genius,’ or guardian spirit. He felt that something like those genii resided in matter, and were released and disturbed when matter was transformed… There is a kind of intelligence to what is released, and sometimes it has a mischievous or irritable character.But these genii have a strange kind of loyalty. The fact that they bother to tease us with ill effects means they are inextricably linked to those who disturb them….”
  • The Apothecary turns Shiskin into a pile of salt so that the Soviets won’t find him.
  • The Apothecary, the Count, Jin Lo, Janie, and Benjamin all turn into birds to avoid the Soviets.
  • When the hydrogen bomb goes off, the Count freezes time, Jin Lo casts a “shimmering net” of polymer that contracts to snare the explosion, and then the Apothecary released Quintessence, the fifth element, and it absorbed the radiation.
  • The Apothecary gives champagne to everyone, but it has a secret potion to cause them to forget the last three weeks.

Potentially Offensive Behavior:

  • A sailor is mentioned as having two earrings.


  • Janie mentions that sailors kissed girls in the street when the war was over.
  • A classmate, Sarah, calls Mr. Danby “so dreamy,” and Janie observes he is “undeniably appealing”
  • Janie observes that seeing Benjamin makes her heart pound. She is interested in him, and is surprised when she learns that he was interested in her.
  • Janie thinks her parents will tease her if she shows up with a boy. Her parents do tease her about meeting Benjamin in the park for chess. They call it “a chess date” and call him “Figment,” implying he’s imaginary. Her parents call him a boyfriend, but Janie says he isn’t.
  • Janie wonders what she would do if he tried to kiss her. She gets a “dopey” smile when she thinks about him.
  • A girl who works with Janie’s parents mentions she’s going dancing on a date that night.
  • Janie’s parents brainstorm for the television series they write for, and suggest that Maid Marian flirts with the Sheriff.
  • Janie debates whether or not she should sit with Benjamin at lunch. (It captures a 14 year-old girl’s mind well)
  • Sarah sees Benjamin and Janie together, and says “meaningfully at me, ‘Quick work, Janie’… I could feel myself blushing up into the roots of my hair.”
  • Janie is very aware of physical contact with Benjamin. “As the immediate terror faded, I realized that his arm was across my shoulders, and the side of my body against his. He seemed to become aware of it, too, and he relaxed his grip on my arm. We moved apart and my arm tingled where his finger had been.” Later: “We crowded into the backseat, with Benjamin on my left, the side of his leg pressed against mine.” 
  • Janie and Benjamin test the “Smell of Truth” by asking each other “Who do you fancy?” Janie admits that she likes Benjamin, and Benjamin admits that he likes Sarah, who is snobby and mean. Benjamin says “But she’s also beautiful. I don’t want to like her. But I can’t help it! She sits in front of me in maths, and the curve of her neck, under that braid, drives me completely mad.”
  • Benjamin sneaks into Janie’s room because he doesn’t have a safe place to go. “I was too amazed to worry about the fact that I was only in my nightgown. Anyway, it was the long flannel hand-me-down nightgown from Olivia Wolff’s daughter, and it was about as revealing as a nun’s habit.” Benjamin sleeps on the floors “My bed was very arrow, and even if it hadn’t been, the questions of sharing it was too embarrassing to think about.” Benjamin hides under Janie’s bed while her father comes into her room to talk to her. He sleeps in her room and leaves in the morning before she is awake. Nothing sexual happens.
  • Janie and Benjamin hold hands in jail, through the bars.
  • Pip falls in love with Sarah, the rich snobby girl at school. He is “paralyzed with love” and sweeps her off her feet.
  • You have to be naked when you bathe in potion to make you invisible. This creates some awkward sexual tension both times the children need to be invisible. First to bath, then you cannot wear clothes after becoming invisible, so they are cold and always in danger of become visible while naked.
  • Pip says “So if it wear off, we’ll be starkers inside a military bunker.”
  • Pip asks if they will feel the invisible elixir wear off in enough time to “put your hands over your willy?” Pip makes several references to Benjamin not wanting his privates to be showing.
  • The Apothecary, Jin Lo, Janie, and Benjamin have to sleep outside under a tree. The Apothecary and Jin Lo lie down, leaving a small space for Janie and Benjamin to share together. It was cold, and Janie started so shiver, so Benjamin “put his arm under my head, and moved his jacket so I could share it.”
  • Mrs. Parrish, the landlady drunk on gin, says “In my day, a girl with any looks on her never bothered with Latin. Boys didn’t like a girl was too smart.”
  • Janie says that Sarah would do whatever Pip wanted. “It was as if Pip had his own spell, a love potion that made her agreeable to whatever he wanted.”
  • “Pip stole a kiss… Sarah blushed crimson as she climbed out of the car…”
  • Janie and Benjamin end up having to take the invisible bath in the same room. “I stood there in my shirt with the cool air on my bare legs, knowing I had to unbutton my shirt next, and that Benjamin was standing naked – in front of me… As I moved toward the tub, my bare shoulder brushed Benjamin’s invisible one ‘Sorry!’ we both said at once.”
  • Mr. Danby says that he read Ana Karenina when he was fifteen. “I thought I had to marry a woman like Anna, with those round, soft arms, and dark eyes, and that passion…There was also a very lovely ballerina named Natasha… Also with beautiful arms, though less round.”
  • Benjamin tells Janie “‘you’re the one I’d want to be here with.’ It was exactly the thing I might have wanted him to say, but wouldn’t have dared to wish for, back when I’d had time to worry about whether he liked me or not… His fingers touched my face and then slid around to the back of my neck, and he pulled me closed and kissed me. His lips were warm and soft against mine, and the night air was cold. Shivers went down my spine from the place where his fingers were tangled in my hair ad pressing against my skin. It felt infinitely sweet… there was nowhere else I wanted to be. There is still, to this day, nowhere I would rather have had that first kiss of my life. Benjamin pulled back and his face was turbulent with emotion. He seemed to be frowning and smiling all at once. I knew he was thinking the same things I was. And then he was kissing me again, and the world fell away.”
  • Janie thinks of “the look in Benjamin’s eyes on deck, and his soft lips on mine, and his warm hand touching my face in the bitter cold.”
  • Benjamin kisses her before he leaves and before she forgets everything “Then he leaned forward, and I could feel the warmth of his breath and smell his clean, soapy skin. I wondered where he had slept and bathed, but then his lips touched mine and I felt a steady current of electricity running through my whole body. I knew I would never forget that feeling, as long as I lived.”

Scary Themes:

  • World War II is mentioned often, the Korean War is mentioned once, and the Cold War is mentioned many times. The Blitz of London was mentioned once.
  • Janie goes through several atomic bomb drills, where the children have to hide under their desks or tables. “As if our wooden school desks full of books and pencils were going to protect us from an atomic bomb.”
  • Janie is followed home from school by to men in a dark car. They follow her to her house, and park outside. Janie is scared, locks the door, and doesn’t open the curtains. She later learns they are U.S. Marshalls who want to take her parents in for questioning.
  • Janie’s parents are blacklisted as Communists, so they flee the country.
  • Benjamin points out the futility of bomb drills “[W]e both know that these table would have done nothing against those bombs – not the V-1, not the V-2, not even the smaller ones dropped by planes…But this isn’t even a V-2 we’re talking about…This is an atomic bomb. When it comes, not even the basement shelters will save us. We’ll all be incinerated, the whole city. Our flesh will burn, then we’ll turn to ash… assuming we’re lucky enough to be near the point of impact. For the children in the country, it will be slower. And much, much more painful.”
  • Janie and Benjamin are taken from school by the police, questioned in Juvenile Court, and then put in “cage-like cells.” Their teacher, Mr. Danby, gets them out, but it turns out he is working with the Soviets. He chases them through the school and up onto the roof. The children have to drink the avian elixir and turn into birds in order to escape him. It is an intense scene.
  • Danby hints that he will use torture to make Jin Lo talk.
  • Janie, Benjamin, and Pip rescue Jin Lo from the bunker and start becoming visible because of the orange smoke sticking to them. There is a fear hat they will all be caught.
  • The Apothecary says that he and his wife carried an infant gas mask for Benjamin as a baby during the war.
  • Shiskin grabs Janie as a hostage. He tells her “Any tricks and I will kill you.” The following scene is tense and scary.
  • Janie, as a bird, sneaks into the shed where the hydrogen bomb is kept. She learns that it is a hydrogen bomb and not the atomic bomb they had planned for. Before she can fly away to warn the others, she is caught by Danby and the German man that killed the gardener. She is put inside the German’s hat on his head and they take off in a helicopter before she can warn anyone that the bomb will go off in 20 minutes. They start to put her in a metal toolbox. “If I became human while inside it, I would be crushed as my bones grew. I would die painfully, I was sure…”
  • Janie is left on the deck of the destroyer when the hydrogen bomb goes off. She hoped that the Apothecary’s plan would work to catch and absorb the radiation, but even if it sis, she knew they could not save her off of the destroyer.
  • There is a very detailed description of what the hydrogen bomb looked like as it went off.


  • Mr. Danby, Janie’s Latin teacher, was a pilot with the RAF in WWII. It is mentioned that he shot down German planes and was a POW.
  • Benjamin’s mother died in a bombing raid in London when Benjamin was a baby.
  • Mr. Shiskin says “You know what other thing ‘samovar’ means, in Russian? It is a word for the soldiers who lost their ams and their legs int he war, from shells and exploding mines. Because they look like teapot with no arms and legs, you see? The Soviets sent them to Siberia so people would not see them and know how terrible is the war.”
  • Janie and Benjamin find the gardener murdered, stabbed with the pointer from the sundial sticking out of his chest. “They killed him because of us, for helping us… Shiskin’s house was bugged, and I talked about the gardener there. It was so stupid!”
  • Jin Lo has some oil that she puts on Janie and Benjamin to help them remember when the Apothecary disappeared. Some of the oil gets on Jin Lo and she remembers painful things about the war. “‘Soldiers come’ Jin Lo said in a little girl’s voice. ‘Japanese army. I am eight years old. They kill everyone. Father, mother, baby brother. They think I am dead. So many guns. At night, everything quiet. I climb out from under body, our neighbor, and I look. Whole city…’ She stopped, and her narrow shoulders danced and trembled. She pressed her hands into her eyes, as if to block out what she had seen….”
  • Jin Lo does a Kung Fu kick to open a door.
  • Benjamin’s father tells Benjamin: “[T]he Blitz began, and the bombs came every night. Hundreds of German planes carrying hundreds of tons of explosives and incendiary bombs… a bomb fell one night, unexploded, in the middle of Regent’s Park Road…Your mother had nursing skills and worked for the Women’s Voluntary Service. She was out after the air raid was over, helping to see who was hurt, when the bomb suddenly went off and threw her against a wall. Her neck was broken, and she was killed instantly… People were putting out fires… and I was sitting there in the street, in the chaos, with my dead wife in my arms. I’ve never known so much pain.”
  • Jin Lo hears Janie and Benjamin when they had stowed away on the boat. She holds a flare gun to them until she realizes who they are.
  • The Count tells Janie that the Samoyeds, reindeer breeders, were forced to work on collective farms. “The people rose up, so the Russians shot them down from airplanes.”
  • A sailor holds a revolver that is taken out of his hands by Shiskin who has Janie as a hostage. Shiskin threatens to kill her if they do not give him his wooden leg. “Shiskin knocked me in the side of the head with the butt of the gun, making my eyes fill with tears, and he tightened his elbow around my face. I had no doubt he could break my neck if he wanted to.” Shiskin tells the sailor to put his wooden leg on him “And try nothing, or I will kill you.” Count Vili slows time and knocks the gun out of Shiskin’s hand and is suddenly standing over him, pointing a gun at Shiskin. Benjamin attacked Shiskin, ready to kill him with his bare hands.
  • A hydrogen bomb goes off, but thankfully, the Apothecary’s plan works, and he is able to contain and absorb the radiation.
  • Benjamin turns into a bird to fly back and save Janie, but the elixir doesn’t last long enough, and he turns into a boy mid-air, falling to the sea. Danby says that the fall will kill him “Or if not, he’ll drown instantly, in that cold.”
  • Janie attacks Danby, hitting him with a wrench.
  • The black cloud of the Dark Force attacks the helicopter and Janie and Benjamin fall out of the helicopter and into the ocean. They nearly drown, but are saved by a Norwegian named Hirra.
  • Janie’s dad says he will “wring that kid’s neck.”

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The Apothecary

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