Age Range
Release Date
July 26, 2022
Buy This Book
Thirteen-year-old Jack knows what cured his baby sister when his family thought she might never get well—Dr. Kingsbury’s “Miraculous Tonic.” Guaranteed to relieve maladies known to man or beast, Dr. Kingsbury’s potion can cure everything from pimples to hearing loss to a broken heart, and Jack himself is a witness to the miraculous results and the doctor’s kindness. When he had no money, the doctor didn’t turn him away but gave him the tonic for free along with a job—to travel with him from city to city selling his cure-all elixir.

When Dr. Kingsbury and Jack arrive in Oakdale, the town at first feels like any other they’ve been to. But it’s clear Oakdale is a town with secrets, and its citizens are slow to trust strangers. 
Then Jack meets Cora, and a friendship neither expected starts to bloom. Together they uncover something else they didn’t expect—not only secrets about the town but also Dr. Kingsbury. As they race to discover the truth, they’ll have to decide who and what to believe before it’s too late.

Editor review

1 review
Some things are too good to be true.
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The mystery of Dr. Kingsbury and a tonic that cures everything drives the plot. How can one medicine cure skin ailments, hearing loss, and disease? How well does Jack actually know the doctor and his past? The elixir’s ingredients are never revealed but the symptoms of some characters improve or disappear. The explanation might be a coincidence but it doesn’t explain how a man’s hearing comes back or another man is finally able to walk without crutches. The unknown aura surrounding Dr. Kingsbury will keep readers captivated as they try to discover the truth about this character and his tonic.
Dr. Kingsbury is an intriguing and perplexing character as he displays the light and dark sides of his personality. He’s charming and empathetic with the townspeople as he inquires about their problems and ailments. However, Dr. Kingsbury strikes another employee for challenging him and this character leaves and never returns. However, he’s not forgotten as Jack continues to think about his friend and tries to learn what’s happened. Dr. Kingsbury treats Jack well enough but his mood can swing drastically when he’s displeased. While the health of his customers seems to be a high priority, making money by selling more tonic is his main motivation. Who is this man?
One subplot involves a character named Simon. When he was younger, Simon once traveled to Oakdale looking for a job to help his family. He worked as a farmhand for a man named McCall despite being treated poorly by other boys working for the farmer. Now, he’s returned to buy McCall’s deteriorating farm and observes events around town from afar. Ms. Moore owns a hat store and struggles to remember where she previously saw the doctor and has trouble feeling welcome in Oakdale even after living there for years. Then, there’s an oak tree in the center of town that represents the citizens’ deep roots and their close-knit community. A picket fence encloses the tree for protection, although it may have symbolic meaning too. Finally, the lone school teacher begins to suffer from a disease and fears he may be fired from his position.
What didn’t work as well:
I often dislike plots told from various points of view and the early part of this narrative shifts between multiple characters and time. This creates some confusion as the story develops since it’s more challenging to make connections with unfamiliar characters and events. Rest assured everything comes together and the author saves a few surprises as the plot nears its climax.
The Final Verdict:
Some things are too good to be true. The book features several compelling stories concerning interactions between members of a closed community and several recently-arrived characters. The overall story teaches a lesson about acceptance and morals. The plot isn’t overly dramatic but I recommend you give it a shot.
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