Good evening everyone! Today is my stop on the TLC Book Tour of Liesel Schwarz’s debut novel, “A Conspiracy of Alchemists,” which is the first book in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow series. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
“A Conspiracy of Alchemists” is a steampunk paranormal adventure. Our protagonist, a young pilot named Elle, agrees to deliver a rather unusual cargo, only to find herself caught up in a plot between the various supernatural forces that share the world. After her father is kidnapped by Alchemists, Elle must take action, piloting an experimental steam-powered gyrocopter in hot pursuit. Accompanied by a dangerous yet sexy Warlock named Mr. Marsh, as well as an absinthe fairy that stowed away in her bracelet, Elle begins a journey in which only she can save the world from dark forces grasping for power.
Elle made an excellent protagonist. She’s an independent young woman in a world where that is unusual, and she is accustomed to having to fight for her freedom and her happiness. This is countered by her very unique role as the next Oracle, one who is destined to channel the balance of power between worlds. Elle’s coming-of-age is to learn to accept that she can be her own person, but still accept her gift and all its implications.
The love story between Elle and Mr. Marsh was mind-bogglingly cheesy, and I was completely okay with it. I was happy to see that it was a love story (the guilty pleasure variety–the tall, dark, and brusque stranger meets a fiercely independent rebellious young woman, at which point they argue for half the book and then realize they are madly in love), and not a love triangle.
The idea of using an absinthe fairy as a major character was quite clever, even though I wish she would have been more developed, or would have at least had a bigger role in the plot. I also wished that the fairy’s point-of-view hadn’t been signified by a different font, as it was a bit distracting.
I was pleased that the book had an ending, even though it’s the first in a series. The story arc of this book is resolved, but then the final chapter is set up as a teaser for the next book. This works rather well. It makes you wonder what’s going to happen next, but at the same time, you’re not being tortured until the next book is finally written and released.
This is one of those times where I read a book at exactly the right time. Between work and school, I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, and was in the mood for something light, fun, and not too serious. “A Conspiracy of Alchemists” met those qualifications. Absinthe fairies and gyrocopters are just awesome, and evil alchemists and warlocks with questionable intentions are great for brightening up a rough day.
Overall, not bad for a debut novel. A bit rough around the edges, but still a fun read.