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And now, the 10 things I loved about The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands:
- The genre: It's a historical mystery! I love well-written middle grade novels set in the past. And well done mysteries. So, to find them both in an adventurous, crazy, fun book was so wonderful.
- The details: Somehow Sands weaves in so much historical detail that the period just oozes through. I felt completely immersed in the world, but it never felt didactic. overdone, and never a single info dump that I can remember.
- The sense of time: This is kind of connected to the previous point, but I really appreciated the acknowledgment of how pervasive religious belief was in the 17th century.
- Christopher: He seemed so real, not only just as a boy, but also as a boy of the period. It felt authentic. Sometimes authors can tend to assign too many modern sensibilities to children set in a historical period, but Sands does a great job of avoiding this, but still making Christopher completely believable.
- The concoctions: I loved all the bits of scientific details and how Christopher uses his knowledge to mix up things to help him get out of (and sometimes into) trouble.
- The friendship: I absolutely adored Christopher and Martin's friendship. They were everything best friends should be: similar, yet different - complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses, and loyal.
- Martin's sisters: They were adorable and strong and intelligent and I wanted so much more of them!
- The twists and turns: What good is a mystery without a ton of crazy twists and turns? The mystery spins you around, revealing things at just the right rate to keep you intrigued but not frustrated.
- The secret passage: I love a good secret passage. How much fun would it be to find a secret room in real life? I'll take experiencing it second hand in a good book if I can't experience it for real.
- Bridget: Every boy needs a pigeon sidekick. Adored Bridget.