Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Publish date: September 6, 2016
I read and absolutely fell in love with Kevin Sands’s first book, The Blackthorn Key (click to visit my review), so when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I definitely let myself have a fangirl moment. This series for young readers is so much more than just a “kids book” – to me, I get so lost in the world and love following the characters along on their adventures, it’s almost how I felt when reading Harry Potter for the first time. Yeah, I’m going there.
Mark of the Plague continues to follow Christopher and his friend Tom on their wacky adventures in the 1600s. Christopher is an apothecary’s apprentice who is trying desperately, like everyone else during this time, to find a way to treat the plague. That’s when two new faces show up in town: one claiming to have the ability to predict who will die of the plague next, and one claiming to have the cure. Christopher, Tom, and their old friend Sally come together to follow the clues these two leave behind in order to figure out if they’re bluffing – and hopefully they figure it all out before one of them gets sick.
What I love most about this series is the puzzles and clues – and that is the aspect that reminds me most of Harry Potter. These three young teenagers working to piece together any clues they can find, cracking word puzzles left in letters, and concocting “potions”, to understand what is going on with bad guys that seem far too intimidating to face at their age.
I also love Sands’s writing – not just the story he builds, but the fact that I can open the book and fall directly into the characters’ world. I was sort of in a reading drought recently, and Mark of the Plague made me want to read again. Like, a lot. Like, I finished a 500-page book in two days.
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading this, but the best thing for you to do is pick it up yourself. Start with The Blackthorn Key, and move onto Mark of the Plague (though you don’t have to read the first book first, I recommend you do), and you’ll see how the series is only getting better.