From School Library Journal
Grade 4–10—In the third volume in the series, the young Apprentice to the Extraordinary Wizard yearns to go beyond his training in Magyk to Physik, an ancient form of healing championed by the great Physician Marcellus Pye. He gets his chance when the decrepit, 500-year-old Marcellus kidnaps Septimus back in time to help him turn his ill-fated tincture for everlasting life into one for everlasting youth. Princess Jenna, joined by Nicko and his love interest, a new character named Snorri, goes searching for a way to reach Septimus and bring him back to his rightful time. She must also elude the ghost of Marcellus's mother, Queen Etheldredda, who is bent on murdering the princess so she can assume the throne. Explanations of time travel are wisely avoided: "at that point, Septimus' brain refused to think anymore," and many other plot elements are juggled successfully. There are too many characters to keep track of, however, including lesser figures who are not presented with enough background information. Readers will quickly warm up to the stars of the book, sketched with liberal doses of humor, and all back in top form. Chapters alternate points of view, keeping suspense high, while lots of vivid details portray a palace life humming with Magyk. Fans of the series will enjoy the secrets that are revealed as Physik
delves deeper into the labyrinthine palace walls and will eagerly await the next installment.—Emily Rodriguez, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
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Few fans of the best-selling Septimus Heap series will be disappointed by this excellent third adventure, which counters the fraying novelty of the DomDaniel plotline with a brand new villain--a former queen whose malevolent spirit is accidentally released from an enchanted portrait. Along with a deadly epidemic, the spirit brings turmoil to the kingdom and to Septimus, who is forcibly apprenticed to an alchemist living many centuries earlier. Rescue efforts wind up trapping more members of the Heap family, as well as a visitor from the far North, in the same situation. The time-travel elements are head spinning, but moments of faltering logic will go unnoticed as readers savor the quirky storytelling, marked by a sprawling, omniscient purview and plenty of entertaining tangents. With entries as strong as this one, Sage's efforts will continue to stand strong within the crowded young-wizard niche. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved