The Bookseller’s Apprentice

book review

The Bookseller’s Apprentice

written by
Amelia Mellor
review by
todd kuchel

The last thing 12-year-old Billy Pyke wanted, was to end up working a dead-end job at a factory like his father, achieving nothing but the counting of nails, day in and day out.

His parents’ wages were, however, apparently no longer adequate to care for Billy and his six siblings, so it was time, they insisted, that he left school to contribute to the family’s finances.

Billy didn’t mind leaving school, but the thought of missing out on his weekly errand to Paddy’s market to collect the family’s supplies would have meant missing out on the highlight of his week.

Billy decided it was time to find a job he liked, before his parents forced one upon him – and the perfect job had just been advertised.

Among fish stalls, fruiterers, magicians, musicians, and the bustling crowds of people speaking accents from all over the world, there stood Billy Pyke’s favourite store, Cole’s Books.

The shop owner, Mr. Cole, was an intelligent and charming gentleman who provided Billy with entertaining riddles each week and welcomed customers to read his books for free.

Billy had memorised the advertisement Mr Cole had placed in the local newspaper, seeking a new shopkeeper.

Billy did not fit the age, nor the description of the worker Mr Cole was seeking, but he still took it upon himself to apply. 

Soon afterwards, Billy encounters an unusual magician who calls himself Magnus Maximillian the Obscurosmith. This stranger demonstrates his magic and claims to be able to grant Billy whatever he wishes, free of charge.

But Billy is warned about the Obscurosmith by Kezia, a new-found friend who reveals the cost of a deal previously made.

Against all odds, Billy discovers his purpose in the world but also the true nature of the Obscurosmith and takes it upon himself to stop the unfortunate events at Paddy’s market.

The Bookseller’s apprentice is a prequal to Australian Author, Amelia Mellor’s best-selling novel, The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

This charming story is set in Melbourne, Australia, and inspired by the real Paddy’s Market that once existed in the city.

In this story, Paddy’s market is a magical place, carnival-like, and filled with mystery and fun.

It is evident, with the attention to detail of this book, especially with the locations, that Amelia Mellor has a great respect for the city of Melbourne and has invested a large amount of time researching its history.

With a great balance of real-world problems, mystery, and magic, I believe it is a great book for all ages.

I personally found it extremely entertaining and a fun story to read, with enough going on to entertain mature readers and provide a challenge for its younger audience.

Available now from The Raven’s Parlour Bookstore, Tanunda.

Todd Kuchell

contributor // The barossa mag
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