Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about alchemy so to find this book and review it, only piqued my interest more for other books. What I liked about this one especially, was the particular settings and the uniqueness of the main character. Not to mention the magnificent book cover! It has such a fantasy feel to it, I can’t describe, but book lovers will know what I’m getting at…
Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
Thank you to Wednesday books and NetGalley who provided a digital copy to review. In no way does this influence my opinion. For more notable works by Wednesday books, click here: Wednesday Books
I’m not an expert in alchemy fiction books, but what I’ve read so far, this had to be one of my favorites. Yes, as you read this review, you’ll notice I’ll have a lot to say, but I liked the plot. It had enough action and adventure to keep me on my toes to read more. There were some twists I saw coming, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Once we enter Thea’s world she’s betrayed by her mother and sent to her father who doesn’t want her—scratch that—too embarrassed to see her because of his position at a University.
However, Thea is the only one who can make the Philosopher’s Stone so her father can’t push her away entirely. It made sense in the time of the seventeen hundreds, women were considered weak and only good for housing and babies. I liked how the author made Thea stand out, but in a way where it didn’t feel forced. The writing itself was easy to read considering we’re talking about alchemy and all these terms, but I found it simple and flowed well.
Personally, I felt as if Thea’s character hadn’t developed all that much. She was likable, confident, diligent and quick from the start, so I hoped the author didn’t change her all that much. However, her feelings toward Will, her longtime crush, came in the way so many times it put me off. I’d rather much preferred her father than Will. I wished she could’ve seen past Will’s act to see who he really was. If she had been as smart with emotions as she was with alchemy, then I would’ve liked the ending better…
Dominique on the other hand was my favorite character from the start. I just had this feeling about him… that he wouldn’t turn me down. He too could be a great alchemist one day. He stuck by Thea’s side through thick and thin. I wished she would’ve seen it—him sooner and realized that he was worth it more than freaking Will!
"We left each other that way. Both quieted from the shock of finding friendly feelings under the skin of enemies." - 95% into the book.
As I write this, I realized that the young adults were much more mature and at risk than the actual adults. Then again, this is young adult fiction lol… When I mean adults, I’m referring to Thea’s father Velacott and Valetin… well, not so much him. Her father was the main reason she had people on her tail for the stone. If he had manned up and showed off his daughter instead of shoving her away, he could’ve learned from her for a change. He could’ve been the father she needed all those years ago.
Yet I liked the development of their relationship throughout the entire story. It made the situation of father-daughter more realistic. In the end, I sort of liked Valetin and wished we could’ve gotten more out of him in terms of past and present. Yet Valetin played a crucial part in showing Thea who Will really was. He seemed like a loyal friend who stuck to his word.
The romance in this story irked me because I liked the plot so much for its action and adventure. Thea gave Will so many chances that it became tedious and predictable that he wanted the stone all for himself, no matter who or what he had to do. On his freaking death bed he still thought of himself while Thea still thought of him. Ugh…love.
I’ve thought about this review a lot because of how the book ended. I’ve read past reviews and agreed with quite a few when they’ve said that the book fell short. The ending wasn’t as expected… and not in the good way. There was so much to build up for this stone then it ended in a flash with half the characters looking as if they’ve had much more to say. The ending was bittersweet in a way. There are pros and cons to it. I won’t dive into them as I’d highly recommend this book after giving it four stars.