The Many Keys to Kevin Sands’ The Blackthorn Key

By Jacob G.

Kevin Sands’ The Blackthorn Key has a backstory unlike any book you’ve ever heard of before. On October 14th, all grade five classes got to have an inside look at this captivating book.

The Blackthorn Key, which was released on September 1st, is Sands’ debut book, and says his book has potions, puzzles, explosions and murder. Yes, this 60,000 plus word book is full of enigmatic elements.

Christopher Rowe, the protagonist, is a boy living in London in 1665. Christopher was a happy boy who was learning how to do things such as solving complex codes, puzzles, creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons, as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn. All of a sudden, a mysterious cult preys on London’s apothecaries, and murders get closer to Master Blackthorn’s shop. As time dwindles away, Christopher must use skills learned to discover the key that he could use to prevent the destruction of the world.

It sounds pretty interesting–doesn’t it–but there’s an inside scoop to all of this, Kevin revealed to the 100 plus grade five students. The year 1665, in which Kevin set his book, was a time when there were incurable diseases and there wasn’t even a remedy for the flu. He told us about how kids didn’t go to school and were apprentices at very young ages. There was also science to this—for example, that willow bark relieves pain, which is the same chemical found in aspirin, and that mercury is so dangerous that it’s illegal to bring it to public places. One of the most nerveless things mentioned during the visit was the subject of steganography, which is the practice of concealing messages or information within other nonsecret text or data, which was used by tattooing it into people’s scalps.

It took Sands six to eight months to write the opening book of the series, and two and a half years from when he started writing other failed material until he sold this book. When his editor suggested calling the book the Blackthorn Code, he found that too many people were comparing his book to the da Vinci Code, so he called it The Blackthorn Key. If you read this book, you will see that Mr. Sands used his experience of being a researcher, business consultant, and teacher to write this intricate story.

The Indigo Staff Pick for October is being sold for $15.87 online as a hardcover, or $11.99 if you have a Kobo.

When I asked Kevin what inspired him to write the book, he said that apothecaries themselves were his initial inspiration. He also added, “…I basically learned whatever I could, and the more that I discovered, the more I knew that I wanted to write the book.”


Kevin Gave Over 100 Grade Five Students a First Hand Look at His First Book


Kevin Sands’ Detailed Presentation


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