I am pleased as punch to be included in the blog tour for the release of The Transparency Tonic by Frank L. Cole. This second installment of a Middle Grade series roars right out of the gate, and keeps it up with almost non-stop action. In between, we get that familiar junior high angst of wanting to please your friends, our hero questioning his own talents, and an ending that will surprise you.
Gordy and his mom are Elixirists – well, his mom Wanda is. He is just a Dram, an elixirist in training. But he is one of the best Ciphers she’s ever seen, and he can do this thing called Blind Batching that blows everyone away – sometimes literally. What’s a Cipher? What’s a Dram? What is Blind Batching? Well, glad you asked, because I am pleased to introduce you to a new world – of magic, of secrets, of carefully concocted potions. If you have read the first book in the series, The Eternity Elixir, then you know what I mean. Rest assured you are in for a treat. If you haven’t read the first book yet, go and do that as soon as you can. I’ll wait.
Let me help you out a bit – in the first book, Gordy is just a fledgling elixirist, not even a Dram. He isn’t sure what he can do, and he makes the mistake of thinking he has things under control. There is a re-animated mummy, a wickedly nasty elixirist out to get something that Gordy’s Aunt Priss found in the desert and shipped to his house, and a whole lot of people getting Blotched (that’s bamboozled to you and me, where you are under the power of another person and don’t remember what you are doing), including Gordy’s dad. The world building is detailed and interesting. The potion brewing is well done and includes all kinds of ingredients and considerations. You know you are doing some serious brewing when you are working with catfish eyes, a mill worm cut in half, pickled cobra hoods and scorpion stingers.
It all comes down to Gordy’s Grandpa, who he thought was dead, the powerful elixirist Mezzarix. This man doesn’t take banishment lightly. We are introduced to the potion Community, the B.R.E.W. (Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide) headquarters, and a host of potions that do all kinds of things. There is also, thankfully, a seven-page glossary that helps sort out all this new information. The world-building in the first book is very complete, and there is plenty of action once things get under way.
In the second book, The Transparency Tonic, we already know all that. So it is open the door and you’re in it. Keep your wits about you, and don’t pretend that you know what anyone’s motivation is. There are dangers around every corner, and Gordy has to decide who he can trust. The stakes are higher and the action is faster.
Lucky for Gordy, he has two best friends, Max and Adilene, who will help him on his journey. When Gordy and his friends start eighth grade, things start to change. But who is this new girl, Sasha? Why does she want Gordy to come to a party at her house? Things get especially touchy when Gordy picks Max as his lab partner. Adilene had really had her heart set on it. Then she meets an odd girl named Cadence, and finds she may be able to do things on her own.
Meanwhile, Sasha’s mom, the new head of B.R.E.W., is cracking down. All is well until she cracks down on Wanda. And remember Gordy’s Grandpa? Well, he is not one to be put aside. What he can do with a single human hair… Well. It’s not going to be good. Let’s just say there are new villains galore.
There is a whole lot going on in this second installment. The predicament of the kids rings true, and so does the situation with Wanda. We meet again with Wanda’s co-workers Bolter and Zelda, and we are introduced to various other factions of the potions Community, which opens up a whole world that Gordy can now take part in. I am not going into any more detail as I don’t want to spoil the best bits. But if you love Middle Grade, you will love this. Five stars on GoodReads! Highly recommend for fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and books that include magic and action.
Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic (Potion Masters #2) by Frank L. Cole
Hardcover, 384 pages, ISBN 9781629724881
Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir (Potion Masters #1) by Frank L. Cole
Hardcover, 304 pages, ISBN 9781629723587
Thanks to Callie at Shadow Mountain Publishing for including me in this launch blog tour! The Transparency Tonic released on Jan 16, so go look for it now! Frank Cole will be touring the western United States, so check the website for dates and places to see if he is coming near you!