September brought with it big changes to the book lover home, with my eldest daughter leaving the primary school where I work (yes, you have to feel for her having her Mum’s desk right next to her classroom) and going all the way to the secondary school – well it’s actually just round the corner. After spending years knowing instinctively whether or not my daughter would enjoy a book after reading it, I would now be at a loss when she strayed towards the ‘Teen’ section of our local library. So I did what any other normal Mum would do (that’s what I tell myself) and thought about the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them!” So it seemed like a natural progression for my blog to feature books which will appeal to KS3 children that have a sprinkling more of romance and danger than I would normally read and recommend. I’ve been intrigued by ‘The Potion Diaries’ series since reading the short story in the glorious ‘Winter Magic’ curated by Abi Elphinstone, so when the lovely people at Simon and Schuster sent me the whole series, I promptly ignored my family and allowed myself to be swept away into a world of alchemy, bitter rivalries and heart-stopping adventures.
The Potion Diaries
When Princess Evelyn accidentally poisons herself with a love potion, it causes great danger to herself and the people of Nova. A nationwide Wilde Hunt is called and all eligible alchemists are summoned to find a cure, including Samantha Kemi whose family was once the most respected alchemist in the kingdom until they fell out of favour with the Royal Family. Sam is determined to restore her family’s great reputation by winning the hunt but how can she possibly hope to compete with the rich and successful Zoroaster whose synthetic potions have overtaken natural potions as the people’s choice. Sam is forced to travel the world to find the rarest ingredients – in order to make the cure. But even if her wildest dreams she could never have anticipated that she would face the most deadly and dangerous of events around every corner. Mix one part magic and two parts danger and let the hunt begin!
The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour
After the Wilde Hunt, Sam’s life might have changed for the better but that doesn’t mean she’s in for an easy ride. Supposedly accompanying Princess Evie on a Royal Tour it seems like a remarkable and luxurious opportunity for an ordinary girl. However the reality is far from just the chance to experience first hand, beautiful dresses, grand balls and opulent palaces. Sam is up against the clock to develop a potion that will contain Princess Evie’s power so that she can’t accidentally destroy Nova and her life gets even more complicated when someone tampers with her grandad’s mind. Unknown to Sam somebody is trying to unlock his memories so they can develop the most powerful potion in the world, which people would literally kill for. A whirlwind trip, a race against time and just to make matters worse the whole world is watching.
The Potion Diaries: Going Viral
Just when we think Sam’s life must surely be due to return to normal, Princess Evie makes a disastrous match that is causing division and chaos in Nova. As if that wasn’t bad enough the Princess is showing symptoms of a deadly disease which is highly contagious with the potential to spread like wildfire through the city. The good news is that Sam thinks there might be a cure for the virus but the bad news is that the most essential ingredient for the potion is buried half way across the world, right next to an active volcano. Unfortunately for her, Sam’s not the only one after it. Can she find what she needs against the most deadliest and dangerous of odds, before it’s too late. Oh and did I forget to mention that whilst her life is spiralling out of control she has her very own film crew trailing her every move. This time Sam’s adventure is really going viral!
I just adore this fabulous series, it’s fast, frenetic, dark, dangerous and with just enough of a sprinkling of romance not to distract from this thrilling storyline. Sam Kemi is a heroine to love, her passion for alchemy is totally captivating. One of my favourite things that captures this wonderfully is the way Sam’s brain is automatically tuned to creating the perfect potions to cure in her head every time she comes across an ailment and how every ingredient she spots is scooped right up into her mind to be used for a multitude of potions. She lives and breathes alchemy from her fingers to her toes but she refuses to allow herself to be drawn into the battle between the old natural methods and the new synthetic creations, because in her heart she is practical and wants the best for everyone. I loved Princess Evie, who unwittingly manages to fling Sam and her people of Nova into increasing danger not for purely selfish reasons but because she can’t conform and accept the royal bonds than constrain her from making her own choices. In a world of limited choice and high expectations she is the one who refuses to be what everyone expects her to be. Not only is it an exciting adventure, it quite cleverly gives us an insight into how easily division can occur in society and how people can react in the most unexpected of ways when put under enormous pressure. And just one more thing, just when I thought I couldn’t love it any more it’s genuinely diverse which sadly we don’t see enough of in children’s books. So what are you waiting for, if you have a young tween/teen who loves being taken on breath-taking adventures then this is the series for you. Enjoy!
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me ‘The Potion Diaries’ series it has been a huge treat to read. All of the books are available to buy now from any good bookshop.