My 11 year old and I loved The Apothecary but were terribly disappointed by this book. I was totally shocked by the gratuitous violence depicting a woman who had been cut open and her guts were hanging out. This was fully described and quite graphic. It was revisited again in a dream sequence. As an adult, I am still haunted by this image. This kind of graphically violent description had no place in a novel for this age group. I am shocked that the author of this review did not take note of this. I urge Meloy to tone down this violent section in subsequent editions of the book to make it more suitable to pre-teens and teens. Furthermore, I found this sequel woefully lacking in many of the areas that The Apothecary did so well. The Apothecary was a great work of exciting historical fiction (and geographical fiction as the physic garden is a real place) mixed with fantasy. The Apprentices, on the other hand, was truly boring and lacking in any of the educational merit of the first book.