The Bookseller's Apprentice

Amelia Mellor

The Bookseller's Apprentice
Affirm Press
27 September 2022

The Bookseller’s Apprentice

Amelia Mellor

Winner of the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize - Children and Young Adult (CYA) Category

Shortlisted for The Readings Children's Prize 2023

Twelve-year-old Billy Pyke has a talent for sorting things out, whether it’s his chaotic family home or the busy book stall at Paddy’s Market. In 1871, the market is the loud, smelly, marvellous heart of Melbourne, and Billy is delighted to work at the book stall there for the eccentric Mr Cole.

When his new friend Kezia warns him of a sinister magician called the Obscurosmith, Billy can’t believe her stories of magical deals gone horribly wrong - until he sees them happening. And the night that the Obscurosmith crosses a terrifying and dangerous line, Billy realises something: if he wants the Obscurosmith stopped, he’ll have to do it himself.       

Award-winning author Amelia Mellor delivers another race-against-time adventure in this action-packed prequel to The Grandest Bookshop in the World. Loaded with tricks, riddles, magic and mayhem, The Bookseller’s Apprentice is perfect for Mellor fans and newcomers alike.


This prequel to the bestselling The Grandest Bookshop in the World is a magical journey into late 19th-century Melbourne.

Twelve-year-old Billy, the eldest in a large family, must leave school and get a job to help pay the bills. Rather than follow his father into the local nail-making factory, he aspires to work for Mr Cole, who runs a bookshop in the bustling stalls of Paddy’s Market.

Paddy’s Market brings Billy into contact with many intriguing characters, but most foreboding is the Obscurosmith, a magician who can never tell a lie, but takes more than the owner wishes to give when striking a bargain. Using his own burgeoning magical powers, and the help of new friend Kezia, Billy must battle with the Obscurosmith in a duel of riddles to protect the market and his friends within.

A beguiling mix of historical fact and fiction, this story reads beautifully as a standalone, but will also be loved by readers of the previous book. Ages 10 and up will be utterly engrossed in this thrilling adventure.

Angela Crocombe is a senior buyer at Readings

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