Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands

10:00 AM

Title: Mark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key #2)
Author: Kevin Sands
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 544
Source: ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada
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Overall: 5 STARS

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…

Christopher Rowe thought life couldn't possibly get more worse after the murder of his beloved Master Blackthorn a few months ago, but he was utterly wrong. The Black Death has returned to London with a vengeance. The wealthy nobility have fled to the country, the Apothecaries' Guild has closed its doors, and the commoners are struggling to survive. Fear is running rampant as the plague claims thousands of lives everyday; with no known cure, the city's doctors can only alleviate their patients' suffering.

Now Christopher is doing all he can to make it through the epidemic. The Blackthorn shop may belong to him now, but as an apprentice, he can't sell remedies to customers. Though his funds are dwindling, Tom, his best friend and constant companion has been sneaking him food from home. When an old friend visits the shop, Christopher is left with a new puzzle to solve: finding a treasure Master Blackthorn left behind.

But finding the treasure is put on hold when Christopher encounters a mysterious prophet named Melchior, who has gained a cult of followers. Melchior always seems to know the right words to incite his audience, but more troubling, he can predict the plague's next victims. Christopher doesn't know what to make of the masked man, only that there's something about Melchior he doesn't quite trust...

Kevin Sands has delivered another thrilling page-turner that captivated me from beginning to end! Mark of the Plague absolutely lives up to the high expectations set by The Blackthorn Key, one of my favourite novels I read last year. Christopher is often underestimated because of his age, but he's a brilliant and bright boy, eager to learn and ever curious. And always by his side is Tom, who's unfaltering loyalty was proven once again in this book.

I was so happy when the duo became a trio! Sally, an orphan from Cripplegate like Christopher, has a much larger role to play in Mark of the Plague. She was the perfect fit to join Christopher and Tom on their search for the truth. And I laughed when Tom realized Sally was just as naturally mischievous as Christopher. The camaraderie between them all is just so joyfully fun! Their investigation may lead them to peril, and the plague is a constant worry, but you know they'll be alright if they just stick together. 

Mystery. Secrets. Danger. All the friendship feels. I absolutely loved Kevin Sands' Mark of the Plague!

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