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The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle (Book I) [Kindle Edition]

Susannah Appelbaum , Jennifer Taylor
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Introducing a witty and macabre new fantasy trilogy.

There's little joy left in the kingdom of Caux: the evil King Nightshade rules with terrible tyranny and the law of the land is poison or be poisoned. Worse, eleven-year-old Ivy’s uncle, a famous healer, has disappeared, and Ivy sets out to find him, joined by a young taster named Rowan. But these are corrupt times, and the children—enemies of the realm—are not alone. What exactly do Ivy and Rowan’s pursuers want? Is it Ivy’s prized red bettle, which, unlike any other gemstone in Caux, appears—impossibly—to be hollow? Is it the elixir she concocted—the one with the mysterious healing powers? Or could it be Ivy herself?

Told with wry humor, The Hollow Bettle is the first installment in the Poisons of Caux trilogy, an astonishing tale of herbs and magic, tasters and poisoners.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—This story is set in Caux, now ruled by tyrannical King Nightshade. Under his regime, the healing arts have been pushed aside in favor of poisonry. In fact, avoiding being poisoned is a daily concern that has given rise to a shadowy guild that trains and accredits professional food tasters. When 11-year-old Ivy's uncle—the last apothoepath healer in the kingdom—disappears, she sets off to find him, accompanied by Rowan, a recently graduated young taster whose skills become suspect after a number of the king's men end up poisoned while on his watch. Ivy carries a very special bettle, or gem, which has mysterious healing powers. This unusual object may be one reason she's being pursued by guards and the minions of Vidal Verjouce, the frightening head of the Tasters' Guild, but other reasons soon come to light. The writing is vivid and there are many delightful ideas in this first novel, but the plot depends on all-too-familiar fantasy tropes used in unoriginal ways: a prophecy, an orphaned child, and predictable family relationships. Still, the story manages to remain compelling. Several atmospheric black-and-white illustrations are included.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Review, Publishers Weekly, August 17, 2009
“Bewitching. . . . Debut author Appelbaum’s stylish, atmospheric prose is well matched by Taylor’s warm interior illustrations. . . . Caux is an enchanting, unusual setting that echoes the complexity of its heroes and villains alike. ‘High above the tallest trees, you can feel the land’s misfortune,’ Appelbaum writes. ‘You might feel it even pulling you in."

Review, Booklist, June 1, 2009
“A deeply satisfying, humor-laced quest with elements of wizardry and herbology, deeds of a dastardly nature, and ultimately, redemption. Similar in tone but not as darkly Dickensian as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, this adventure pulses with imaginatively named characters, gratifying close calls, and a landscape that is vividly alive. Readers, individually or as part of a read-aloud experience, will savor young Ivy’s expedition and eagerly await more adventures in the land of Caux.”

Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, November 2009
“A true epic quest. . . . The carefully described morbid, darkly elegant setting and a well-developed cast of intriguing and subtle characters add depth and balance to the quick pace and sarcastic tone of the book. The resulting novel is at once rollicking adventure and thoughtful fantasy.”

Review, VOYA,
“Appelbaum’s first novel quickly captures the imagination. [Readers] will not want to wait to see what happens to Ivy and Rowan in the second installment of this trilogy.”

Review, Chicago Tribune, August 15, 2009
“Witty . . . Ivy and Rowan encounter a lively assemblage of eccentrics, bound to return in later volumes of the Poisons of Caux trilogy.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1429 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375851739
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 11, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002JRQM7C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,392 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Bettle - fantasy with a toxic twist September 22, 2009
Fans of plucky, precocious heroines like the Golden Compass' Lyra Bellaqua will fall in love with Ivy Manx.

Ivy is the young star of The Hollow Bettle, the first book in Susannah Appelbaum's Poisons of Caux trilogy. She lives in a world that has fallen on dark times, in which the rule is poison or be poisoned. When her uncle disappears, Ivy and a young friend set out to find him, winding their way through a tale of herbs, magic, royalty, dangerous plots and rumors of paradise.

The Hollow Bettle uses a few fantasy cliches - the orphaned child, the prophesy - but everything else about Appelbaum's world is so unique that it gives these tired traditions new life. Between the solid plot, entertaining characters, splashes of humor and Appelbaum's approachable style, young adult fantasy fans will find this one hard to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful fantasy October 20, 2009
Susannah Appelbaum's THE POISONS OF CAUX: THE HOLLOW BETTLE tells of eleven-year-old ivy Manx, who lives in the kingdom of Caux where evil King Nightshade rules and the land is poison or be poisoned. Ivy's beloved uncle and protector has vanished leaving her with a crow and an inept taster who sleeps - it's time for her to find him in a dangerous journey across a deadly land. A powerful fantasy evolves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic, poison and danger October 30, 2009
In the kingdom of Caux, poisoning is the norm, and Ivy Manx is worried. When her beloved uncle Cecil went on a journey a year ago, she took over running his tavern, the Hollow Bettle. But that was a year ago, and Ivy decides it is time to go search for him. Accompanied by her pet crow, the tavern's Taster, and her own inept Taster, Ivy sets out and is almost immediately pursued by King Nightshade's deadly sentries. With magical help from a diminutive trestleman, they evade the sentries and an Outrider, then continue on their dangerous trip.

Girls will love the bold personality of feisty Ivy. Boys will love the incredibly disgusting meal Queen Artilla prepares for Ivy and her traveling companions, beginning with an appetizer of live eels, slick and gooey. "The eels slithered busily around the tabletop, leaving the diners the unpleasant task of spearing them with their forks."

Magic and wicked characters abound, but the bright countenance of Ivy shines through it all. Great fun, and an awesome start for a planned trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an incredible book! August 23, 2011
By am
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has such vivid imagery and details such imaginative characters and scenes. You can get lost in this book - it is akin to JRR Tolkien's books or Harry Potter. Ivy is such an inspiring young character, especially for girls but commands respect from boys as well. My 4th grader loved this book and can't wait to read the next one. This book is really well suited for elementary school aged children who can read very well but need appropriate content for their age. As an adult I found this to be a great read and wish there were more thoughtful books like this published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive!! April 4, 2011
By M. Lee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a mother who screens everything her 11-year-old reads I was truly tickled by "The Hollow Bettle", the first book in "The Poisons of Caux" series by Susannah Appelbaum. Yes, it's a series, and I had been heartily looking for a change from those - but the story is original to the point that we can't wait to get our hands now on Book 2. Anyone who's enjoyed Flavia DeLuce's mysteries by Alan Bradley and Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" will get a giggle out of "The Hollow Bettle." (See below) I can't wait to see if better bettles will battle poisoned batter in the future ... Yes, it's that kind of book! Said daughter enjoyed it so much, she chose to submit her review of it as a class assignment!

"Imagine living in a world where everyone is dedicated to the thought of poisoning his next victim. And in that world, only one small girl with a big passion for poison can save this world from destruction. This new world is introduced in 'The Hollow Bettle' by Susannah Appelbaum which is the first book in the new fiction series, 'Poisons of Caux.' At first, you might think that this book will center around the crow and the book illustrated on the cover. However, you will be surprised when you read the book and realize that you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
The world of Caux is ruled a truly evil couple called the Deadly Nightshades and filled with boars who hunt for bettles in snowy mountains and tasters whose job is to make sure that their clients' food is not poisoned. Citizens of Caux live only by one rule of thumb: "poison or be poisoned." We are told it wasn't like that at all a few years ago. It was only when the king's daughter was poisoned and the king went into deep mourning, the land's dark side started to emerge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars December 12, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My son loved the book
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read for young and old August 11, 2009
I can't praise this work of high fantasy literature enough. Certainly a must read for all fans of The Chronicles of Narnia style, supernatural adventure stories. It's a wonderfully nuanced tale, with a smart, strong, young female protagonist that had me engaged from beginning to end. I'm eagerly awaiting the second and third installments of this trilogy!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The task of Caux
There are echoes of P.L. Travers throughout this impressive trilogy of Susannah Appelbaum. The Poisons of Caux is grippingly psychological however it is couched in the narrative... Read more
Published on September 15, 2011 by Codhill
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Recommend!!
I gobbled up this book in a couple afternoons- I absolutely couldn't put it down. The imaginative world created by Appelbaum gripped me from the first page and I happily escaped to... Read more
Published on September 13, 2011 by Katie O
5.0 out of 5 stars makin madness magic
so much magic,madness, mayhem, mystical, mysterious events and personalities with an extremely extravagant exotic elixir of excitement for all, big people, little ones, animals,... Read more
Published on August 9, 2011 by BAM
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for young adults
This book is very detailed and lets you open your mind's door of imagination into that secret"garden of fantasy" and play within it.
Published on January 16, 2010 by Helen Grace I. Juliano
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Adventure
Beautifully crafted and brilliantly imaginative, I have not been able to put this book down! S. Appelbaum's writing is so rich and vivid, I found myself reading and re-reading... Read more
Published on August 18, 2009 by Jana B. Paterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Totally engrossing and really fun read! I would highly recommend this book for preteens or anyone else interesting in alchemy!! Did I mention it is printed in green ink? Cool.
Published on August 17, 2009 by Jesslg
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