Jack is on the run. Alone in the world with nowhere to turn, he finds a strange object floating on the rising tide of the Thames.
In trying to assess the value of the relic Jack meets Barnstable, an alchemist who only adds to the boy's perplexity by his enigmatic ways. Dramatic events escalate and Jack's fortunes change beyond all expectation. But the mystery surrounding the alchemist won't go away. Has he really discovered the secret of making gold?
... From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: In the tiny yard behind the forge, the cock crowed.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Words tumbled around inside his head; alembic, magnesia, athanor, mercury. He couldn't remember what any of them meant. There was only one way to escape them, and Jack took it. Before the alchemist had even begun to explain, he was fast asleep on the chair where he sat.
Aimed at children, I would suggest that this is for older children/young teens who are experienced readers. If it were a film I would be saying that it had enough (just) to maintain the interest of adults, less for older children and very little for younger children. However it isn't a film but a book - a book with a message to tell, a book that deals with some pretty complex issues.
Basically a story of rags-to-riches, The Alchemist's Apprentice tells the story of Jack who goes in search of something (what I won't say) that ultimately cannot be bought.
One of those novels that is difficult to review as I'm not too sure if I really enjoyed it or not. Certainly the plot was interesting but I was left feeling that I'd heard it before - Henry Fielding's TOM JONES somehow came to mind. Character wise, I cannot say I liked the characters, and especially not Jack himself, who were rather poorly written and 'flat' if I can use this term to describe them.
Not a book I particularly liked and yet I found myself reading all 199 pages in next to no time, I shall certainly be passing this onto Niece #2 (almost 12) to see what she makes of it.
The Alchemist's Apprentice was ex-library stock, purchased at our local library.