The Apothecary is a fantastical adventure in the early stages of the cold war. There is more than a few creepy or violent moments, starting out with the ominous chapter title "Followed." Janie's family is forced to flee America after Janie is followed home from school. Why? Her parents are believed to support communism, however, they don't. The kids witness German thugs break into Benjamin's dad's shop. A gardener is found dead. Later, they are chased by a British man turned Soviet spy and turn into birds to escape. In order to save their family, they sneak onto a boat. Janie is held at gunpoint to force the others to allow a soviet to send out a message. The climax is held when they attempt to stop a nuclear bomb from exploding: Janie had been captured while in avian form and held captive, so her captors make her stand on the ship in hope that the radiation will kill her. However, none of the violence is too descriptive, and nothing is really scary. There is a strong educational value behind the story, giving kids an insight into the British school system, the Cold War, and through the strong theme, the importance of family during danger. The characters are strong and believable, having small human qualities (Janie tries to walk like Kate Hepburn), and being incredulous about the magic. Ben and Janie kiss, and there is mention of Pip sneaking a kiss from Sarah. I had one problem with the book (which is a plot spoiler): at the end of the book, Ben gives Janie a forgetfulness potion, something that you'd expect the apothecary to do, but for Ben to do so is disappointing. Ben claims to be doing it for Janie, but you get feeling that it is really to protect himself. However, it does get resolved, but still, it was a disappointing act from Ben.