“𝑨𝒏𝒅 𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝑰 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒅 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒅𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒊𝒏 𝒎𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒅. 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒎𝒆𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒂𝒃𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒍𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒎𝒚. 𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒐. 𝑩𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒎𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒅. 𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒄𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒃𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒅.”—Samantha Cohoe
[A quick note: Coming October 13th, 2020. I was OVER THE MOON when I “wished for it” on NetGalley and got approved to review this book. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a wish granted before. So I was thrilled. While this book wasn’t as gripping as I’d hoped, I still gave it a fairly high review because I really did enjoy it and get completely lost in it. It’s rare that I finish a full length book in two sittings. I read 60% in one night. So that tells you something.]
MY SYNOPSIS: Thea is an adept alchemist determined to make a name for herself in a male-dominated field that many don’t take seriously. The ultimate goal? Creating the legendary philosopher’s stone. Legend says the stone has the power to bring immortality and heal the sick. But at what cost? When Thea discovers a madness that comes with its creation, she must make the ultimate decision. Does she save her mother and sacrifice her sharp mind?
MY REVIEW: This book was a pleasant surprise. I read it in two sittings because it was an easy story to get lost in. I was captivated by the rich world building and strong female lead. Thea’s quick mind and scientific struggles were easy to relate to. And there was just the right amount balance between plot and character conflict that I like in a story.
The story takes place in an alternative historical setting in France/England during a Victorian-esk era. There is the French Revolution looming in the background. But in this world, alchemy is a very real thing. It’s not heavy on the fantasy. And there isn’t a whole lot of magic other than that surrounding alchemy itself.
What I liked the most was Thea’s abilities as an alchemist. She spoke multiple languages, which she utilized to translate exotic texts by long dead alchemists, and in doing so, discovered a way to create the legendary philosopher’s stone when no one else could. As such, she became highly sought after. I also appreciated the realistic portrayal of her struggles being a woman in a male-dominated field. She was constantly underestimated, and often took others by surprise. I related most heavily to this aspect, being a woman in STEM.
I was disappointed that there wasn’t much romance. Romance is the one thing that I always look for in my reads. Personal preference, of course. The character relationships were there, but not so much from a romance perspective. Thea struggles with her parental relationships the most. Her mother was never good at being a mother. And she didn’t meet her father until the start of the story. This shaped her personality and character. It was also one of the conflicts she had to overcome throughout the story.
The ultimate conflict, though, was that of the madness surrounding the philosopher’s stone. I liked the creativity that went into its development, and the madness attached to it. I liked that this madness prevented others from making the stone, unless they were worthy. But I also liked that in order to make the stone, the maker had to make the ultimate sacrifice. It begged the question: what price is too high?
All in all, this was worth the read. I found mixed reviews floating around. Maybe I liked it more because of my ability to relate to the MC? If you like alternative history, Victorian era settings, and aren’t looking for a heavy romance or heavy magical read, you’ll definitely like this one. MY RATING: 4/5⭐️
Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.