The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle, Book 1 (Google eBook)

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Random House Children's Books, Aug 11, 2009 - Juvenile Fiction - 416 pages
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Introducing a witty and macabre new fantasy trilogy.

There's little joy left in the kingdom of Caux: the evil King Nightshade rules with terrible tyranny and the law of the land is poison or be poisoned. Worse, eleven-year-old Ivy’s uncle, a famous healer, has disappeared, and Ivy sets out to find him, joined by a young taster named Rowan. But these are corrupt times, and the children—enemies of the realm—are not alone. What exactly do Ivy and Rowan’s pursuers want? Is it Ivy’s prized red bettle, which, unlike any other gemstone in Caux, appears—impossibly—to be hollow? Is it the elixir she concocted—the one with the mysterious healing powers? Or could it be Ivy herself?

Told with wry humor, The Hollow Bettle is the first installment in the Poisons of Caux trilogy, an astonishing tale of herbs and magic, tasters and poisoners.


From the Hardcover edition.
  

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What I really liked was the world building. The journey Rowan and Ivy go through was well described and their encounters with different characters was well done. I loved the different settings and their adventure seemed to get even more exciting as the book was nearing to a close. How the setting came about, and the introduction to this story was well done. I liked how the setting was established, with a nice concise history on how King Nightshade came about. It’s almost told in a fairy tale narrative - which was well done, and there were plenty of witty phrases to enjoy (all throughout the novel as well). The idea of the bettles are interesting, but what I really liked was that the use of poison was all over the place in this land. It was different and I thought it was rather clever, definitely something you don’t see in a lot of fantasy middle grade fiction out there.
The characters in this book were also well done. Ivy and Rowan do make an interesting team. The plot was good, although a little slow moving at first. However once Ivy and Rowan teamed up on their journey, it got more interesting thanks to the different settings described, and the various memorable characters they encounter on their journey (Poppy really stood out! I thought it was cute).
The idea of this book is a creative one. It’s told with a nice whimsical flair to it, but it took a while to get used to this style of writing. I’m not sure why, but the pace seemed slower and with the writing style (perhaps it was a little too whimsical) the book just seemed to go at a snail’s pace. That being said though, I still thought it was an enjoyable book and it does pick up the pace after a third of the story. I’ll probably continue this series, I’d like to know what happens next, yet I’m not really in a rush to read it. I’d say take it or leave it with this book.
 

Contents

Departure
230
Sky top Calory
233
The End of the Line
239
The Alines
246
The Hollow Bettle 233
255
The Qate
260
The Hanging Qardens
268
The Maze
274

Rowan Truax
49
The Trestle
54
Axlerod D Roux
65
The Cinquefoil
69
The Doorway
76
Pimcaux
83
The Return of Shoo go Chapter 15 Repose
97
Flight
100
The Director
108
Arsenious
112
The Terrible Tonic
119
Southern Wood
126
The Bettle Boar
136
Underwood
143
The Amber Room
149
Poisonry 136
156
The Dungeon
163
The Royal Cobbler
171
Prisoner No 11802
177
The Potion
186
Bearing Stones
195
Windwhippers
202
The Mildew Sisters
212
The Lien
223
The Hedgehog
278
Sorrel Flux
284
The Knox
287
The Estate
297
Mithrodites
300
Peps D Roux
306
The Invitation
312
Not One but Two
318
Arrivals
323
Preparations
327
The Quest of Honor
332
The Tapestries
335
The Hunt
340
The Menu
345
Poppy
352
Axle
362
The Kitchen of the King
366
The Wind
373
The Prophecy
378
Reunion
383
Epilogue Final Words
393
Appendix
399
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Susannah Appelbaum lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two young children. This is her first novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

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