Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Linda Sue Park
The child of two apothecaries, Raffa is an incredibly talented aspiring apothecary as well, and just wants to prove himself. When his uncle and cousin accept a position working for the Chancellor, Raffa wants nothing more than to go with them to the city, but his parents refuse. Unwilling to lose his opportunity, Raffa sneaks off to the city by himself, befriending a couple of girls along the way. When he gets there, however, things are not quite what he had hoped—in fact, something sinister seems to be going on secretly in the Chancellor’s house. Raffa must work with his new friends Kuma and Trixin to uncover the secret and face the Chancellor in order to save lives.
Linda Sue Park has come out with something completely new. While still using popular themes of magic, heroism, and bravery, she has managed to put a spin on them that is unlike other works of the same genre. Although a somewhat slower-paced book, middle grade students will enjoy it for its endearing characters and fresh plot. Parents will appreciate the innocent perspective that the story is written from, although it does take a slightly darker turn toward the end of the book. Park has written a strong first book in the series, and by the end of it the reader is left anxious to know what will happen to the characters next.