Guest Reviewer: Julia
A sweeping story that engrossed me on many levels, The Alchemist of Souls kept me guessing with nuanced characters, unexpected world building, and a fascinating blend of real and imagined history. The switching view points expertly kept several plots in the air at once, and I would be hard pressed to choose which of the several charming lead characters emerged as my favorite overall.
Mal and Coby are both admirable and vulnerable by turns, but the author never betrays their soft spots for cheap emotional thrills. I had little hope for Coby’s girlish crush, and no one could be more thrilled (and surprised) than I at the triumphant close to this book, and the enticing start to what I would love to see as a series. Mal himself is so evenhanded and capable he’s almost anachronistic, observing and respecting all manner of minority races and alternative sexual orientations at a time when “tolerance” was barely in the dictionary. The author does a great job weaving this strength back to the world building without making Mal any less compelling as a character. Though there are plausible magics that may have influenced his development as a man, he is no less charming of a man for them.
A mix of mystery, historical fiction, and pure fantasy, The Alchemist of Souls will definitely appeal across many genres. For Urban Fantasy fans, those who appreciate Harry Dresden’s quixotic charm will certainly find a lot to love in Mal’s band of brothers.
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