The Apothecary by Maile Meloy is the first in a magical Young Adult series set in the 1950s. Janie Scott's family has moved from Los Angeles to London after her parents — both in the film industry — are accused of being Communists and feel obligated to leave the country. In London, Janie feels totally out of place but she's fascinated by Benjamin Burrows, the son of the local apothecary, an unusually defiant student who pointedly refuses to get under the table for atomic bomb drills.
When the apothecary's shop is invaded and he disappears, Janie and Ben set out to find him and discover the apothecary's Pharmacopoeia, the book filled with magic potions that Russian spies were seeking when the apothecary disappeared. To find Ben's father, keep the Pharmacopoeia out of Russian hands, and prevent nuclear disaster, they will have to try some magical potions that do amazing things like turn people into birds.
Highly recommended - Magic, adventure, and a touch of romance make The Apothecary a total delight. I'm kind of disappointed that I only have the first book in the series. The next two don't get quite the ratings the first does at Goodreads, but I enjoyed The Apothecary enough that I'd still like to read on. I just looked and my library system does have the second book, but not the third. I need to drop off donations, anyway, so I'm tempted to check it out in spite of my library check-out ban — part of my book-buying ban. I haven't checked out a single book since the pandemic began so one can't hurt, right? Right?
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