Book Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Title: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow
By: Liesel Schwarz
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Genre Type: Steampunk, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: March 5th 2013
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE.
Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.
It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.
Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.
But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.
WHY I WANTED TO READ THE BOOK: Truthfully, when I saw the amazing cover and the books description stating it was a “blend of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical adventure” I knew I wanted to try this series!
SETTING AND SUMMARY: A Conspiracy of Alchemist by Liesel Schwarz is the first book in the Chronicle of Light and Shadow series, and should delight fans of Steampunk and Paranormal Romance. Set in an alternate Paris in the early nineteenth century, A conspiracy of Alchemists features plenty of fun Steampunk gadgets as well as some unique steam powered aviation to keep things interesting throughout the story. For fans of Paranormal, Liesel Schwarz has created a world inhabited by supernatural creatures, including Nightwalkers, Warlocks, Absinthe drinking Fairies, and of course Alchemists.
When our heroine Elle, the high-flying and high-spirited dirigible pilot (French airships were known as dirigibles), is persuaded to carry some unusual cargo on her plane, her life becomes entwined with the dashing and mysterious Mr. Marsh. Soon they find themselves in a battle with a secret brotherhood of Alchemists using dangerous magic as they try to create supernatural apocalypse.
CHARACTERS: ELLE CHANCE is the pilot and owner of an freighter dirigible (airship) called The Water Lily. She is full of spunk, and her independence sometimes gets her into trouble. Elle’s character was interesting because it was obvious she felt safer working around machines and liked their predictability-unlike people whom she had a hard time trusting. It was great to see her overcome some of this as her adventure began with Marsh, and I enjoyed reading about the sweet romance between the two.
MR. MARSH plays the part of the handsome hero with a mysterious background perfectly. His character was interesting because you knew there was more to him than he let on. I enjoyed learning how he was connected to Elle and the Alchemist Society.
SECONDARY CHARACTERS I LIKED: ALEIX: a mysterious Nightwalker who also seems to have ties to Elle, Marsh and the Alchemists. I hope to see more of him in the next book.
ADELE, a Dryad, known as La Fée Verte, who is captured and likes to drink Absinthe.
I was intrigued by THE BARONESS BELODODIA, a small secondary character, who is a Nightwalker and niece to the famous Vlad that Elle meets on The Orient Express.
SWOON LEVEL: Crush.
THE ROMANCE: There’s some funny verbal banter between Mr. Marsh and Elle throughout the story, and a slow and sweet build up to a romance.
THE SWOON QUOTE:
“Their mouths met. The touch of his lips sparked an energy that plunged to the very depths of her. In that moment, she knew that this was the one kiss of her life. It was the touch of him she would remember forever. The kiss she would dream of when she was lonely. It was the kiss she would relive when she was alone. It would transcend the physical, the realms of Shadow and Light. All other kisses that followed, if there ever were any, would not compare.”
WHAT I LIKED: Liesel Schwarz did a great job incorporating Steampunk elements and unique setting locations into the story. I found myself fascinated by all the great gadgets and enjoyed the explanations of how things worked with the use of “spark reactors” and “steam power”. The locations were fascinating as well, the story starts off in in a small opium den above a Paris cafe, then travel on to Oxford and through on to Constantinople via The Orient Express before it’s all done. It felt like I was traveling across the continent with Elle and Marsh.
WHAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED: A fan of Paranormal, I would have loved it if there was more magic involved in the actual story.
THE ENDING: I enjoyed the ending, and can’t wait for Elle and Marsh's next adventure! Zombies!
MY RATING: 4 Stars. I really like it!
RECOMMENDATION: A Conspiracy of Alchemists would be a good choice for those who are new to the Steampunk or Paranormal genre. Styled like a historical fantasy, but with a light touch of elements from both Steampunk and Paranormal, new readers to the genre will not feel overwhelmed. Fans of the genre will have a fun and light read, without the greater level of world building to it.